There are many benefits of volunteering your time, particularly when the organisation and people you donate your time towards are something you’re passionate about. I used to think of volunteering as only giving up your time or expertise for a registered charity, like working in a soup kitchen, or visiting elderly people in a nursing home, but then it occurred to me that the definition is much broader.
I’m not going to bore you with a dive into the dictionary but volunteering to me is any instance where you donate your time for the betterment of others. Therefore, I’m an active volunteer. Most of my volunteering unsurprisingly is related to women’s cycling. As the Women’s Coordinator of my cycling club, I regularly volunteer my time which includes organising events and rides, attending meetings, liaising with people, and also the professional expertise I share with others. It’s a role I love that brings me great satisfaction. But why is volunteering so beneficial?
Gives life purpose
You may be able to find your purpose through volunteering and becoming part of something greater than yourself. For instance, if you’ve got spare time on your hands, are unexpectedly unemployed or have lost a loved one, helping others can give your life new meaning and keep you mentally stimulated.
Makes you feel like you belong
Volunteering can help you feel connected to those you are helping in the community. Joining a cycling club in my local area has given me the chance to get involved with other aspects of your community, and advocate for programs you believe are important.
Improves self-esteem and confidence
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 goals.
Share your talents and learn new 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. In my role on my cycling club committee, I often volunteer to draft documents, emails, newsletters and more because it’s a skill I am happy to share. I’ve also learnt new things like the importance of governance and record keeping.
Combats stress, loneliness, social isolation and depression
It feels good to contribute to projects and organisations 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.
Meet new people
Volunteering is a great way to meet new friends as well as strengthen existing connections. As a volunteer, I interact with people from diverse backgrounds, which allows me to learn other perspectives. I’ve also made many new friends who share the same values as me.
So why not give volunteering a go? If you find the right opportunity for you I guarantee it will enhance your life.