By: Patrick Moday, BBA, RPSGT, RST, CCSH
Volunteering is a voluntary act of an individual or group freely giving time and labor for community service. Many volunteers are specifically trained in the areas they work, such as medicine, education, or emergency rescue. Others serve on an as-needed basis, such as in response to a natural disaster.
What would you do if you came across a listing for a job that paid absolutely nothing? Yes, nothing.
Zero, zilch, nada. Would you apply for such a position? I know I wouldn’t. At least that’s how I used to think before researching volunteering.
What if the compensation was not monetary but something worth more valuable than money? What if volunteering was worth more than compensation?
The 3 Pillars of Giving: Time, Talent, and Treasure
One of the most exciting things about giving is that there are countless ways to make a difference in the world. And while there really is no wrong way to be generous, you may find that by tapping into your unique skills and creativity that you walk away with an enriched experience. So, how can you get started? The 3 pillars of giving is a good starting point.
Time may be the most valuable resource we all have—once it’s gone, it’s gone. That’s why it’s universally understood how precious the gift of time truly is. This type of giving is providing someone else with your own time to help others. Your gift of time may be direct, hands-on service such as tutoring children at a homeless shelter or an indirect service, such as stocking shelves at a food pantry.
Whether you share your unique skills or professional expertise, you can use your own talent to give back to your community, or anywhere there is a need. Examples may include a doctor providing pro bono office hours at a local clinic or an investment advisor who manages the endowment of a charity. It’s not only rewarding for philanthropists to donate their talents, but also highly valued because it provides a service or expertise that is often out of reach for the recipients.
When many people think of generosity, they think of donating their treasure—a euphemism for money or other items with value. While cash is the most common type of charitable donation, it may also come in the form of real estate, collectibles, and more. One of the benefits of establishing a private foundation, is that you’re able to donate in myriad other ways, including through grants, program-related loans, scholarships and more.
10 Benefits of Volunteering
Whether you’re the type of person who craves a lot of social interaction or whether you prefer as little as possible, volunteering has social, career and personal benefits. Here are the top 10:
- Provides you with a sense of purpose
You may be able to find your purpose through volunteering and becoming part of something greater than yourself. For instance, if you’re retired, unexpectedly unemployed or have lost a loved one, helping others can give your life new meaning and keep you mentally stimulated.
- Provides a sense of community
Volunteering can help you feel connected to those you are helping in the community. This experience may make you want to get involved with other aspects of your community, such as local politics or advocating for programs you believe are important.
- Helps you meet new friends
Volunteering is a great way to meet new friends as well as strengthen existing connections with friends, family or coworkers. As a volunteer, you’ll typically interact with people from diverse backgrounds, which allows you to learn other perspectives.
When you choose an organization or cause to volunteer for, consider the people you’re volunteering alongside did as well. Sharing a common interest will help you build closer relationships with those around you.
- Increases your social skills
Volunteering gives you a chance to talk to new people and sharpen your social skills. By spending a lot of time working with others and using social skills, like active listening and relationship management, you’ll have the opportunity to develop your future personal and business relationships.
- Improves self-esteem
Volunteering may boost your self-esteem and self-confidence. When you do something you feel is worthwhile and valuable for your community, it gives you a sense of accomplishment that may help you feel more fulfilled about your life and any future goals.
- Teaches you valuable skills
The training and hands-on experience you gain while volunteering can help you learn new skills as well as build upon ones you already have. For example, if you advocate and raise awareness or funding for a cause that interests you, you’ll gain valuable communication, public speaking, marketing and other hard and soft skills. You can then put these skills on your resume to show employers how you build relationships outside of work in addition to any personal interests that can set you apart from other candidates.
- Provides job prospects
Along with acquiring valuable skills and experience, you may also meet people while volunteering who can become your mentors or at least a part of your professional social network. If you choose to pursue a career in the field you’re volunteering in, the connections you make also may help increase your job prospects.
- Brings fun into your life
Many people use volunteering as a way to pursue their hobbies while making a difference. For example, if you’re interested in the outdoors, you might volunteer at your community garden or help out at a children’s summer camp. Volunteering for organizations or causes also may provide you with a renewed sense of creativity and motivation that carries over into your personal and professional life.
- Can help you be happier
It often feels good to contribute to projects and organizations that mean something to you. These good feelings can help lessen the effects of stress, anger or anxiety in your life. Volunteering may provide you with the tools you need to be a happy and well-rounded individual. Building bonds and connections with people you volunteer with also may counteract any social isolation. Many volunteer opportunities also may involve physical labor to keep you active and reduce stress.
- Gets you out of your comfort zone
Through volunteer work, you may overcome the personal challenges of leaving your comfort zone and doing something new with people you may not know. You may be faced with various problems to solve as a volunteer that require you to exercise critical thinking skills that aid your own personal development.
So, who’s ready to volunteer their time, talent, or treasure?
Who’s ready to reap the rewards of volunteering?
The California Sleep Society is holding its annual meeting down in beautiful San Diego, CA. We are always looking for volunteers to help with the conference, articles, and content for the newsletter.
Please don’t hesitate to introduce yourself to me or any of the directors at the California Sleep Society meeting. I look forward to meeting with each and every one of you soon.