What Are the Benefits of Volunteering? (Plus a Few Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 May 2022

Volunteer work is an altruistic activity where a person or organisation provides services with no goals for financial or social gain. If you're interested in charitable causes, looking to meet new people or want to learn new skills to advance your career, consider pursuing volunteer work. Volunteering can give you the opportunity to make a positive change in the lives of others. In this article, we discuss the benefits of volunteering, share where to find volunteer opportunities and offer a few tips for finding your next volunteer opportunity.

What are the benefits of volunteering?

Here are the social, professional and personal benefits of volunteering:

Teaches you valuable skills

The hands-on experience and training you gain while doing volunteer work can help you develop new skills and improve ones you already have. For instance, when you raise awareness or are funding for a cause that interests you, you can gain valuable marketing, public speaking, communication and other hard and soft skills. You can then highlight these skills on your CV to show hiring managers how you build relationships outside of work, besides any personal interests that can differentiate you from other candidates.

Related: Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills: Key Differences and Examples

Gives you access to more experienced mentors

Along with acquiring valuable experience and skills, volunteering also allows you to meet people who can become your mentors. A mentor can help you view your career path and choices from a different perspective. This new insight can help you understand your options and make a wiser decision for your professional and personal goals. Remember that it's unlikely that your mentor makes those decisions for you, as their primary goal is to show you what's possible by helping you believe in yourself.

Provides a sense of community

Volunteering can help you feel connected to those you're helping in the community. This experience can make you want to get involved with other aspects of your community, such as local politics or advocating for programmes you believe are important. It can also nurture your sense of belonging and purpose and expand your support system.

Brings fun into your life

Many people use volunteering as a way to pursue their hobbies while helping people. For example, if you're interested in the outdoors, you might volunteer at your community garden or help at a children's summer camp. Volunteering for organisations or causes may also provide you with a renewed sense of motivation and creativity that carries over into your professional and personal life.

Helps you meet new friends

Volunteering can be a great way to meet new friends and strengthen existing connections with colleagues, friends or coworkers. As a volunteer, you usually interact with people from diverse backgrounds, which allows you to learn other perspectives. When you choose a cause or organisation to volunteer for, consider the people you're volunteering alongside. Sharing a common interest can help you establish closer relationships with those around you.

Builds your social skills

Although some people are naturally outgoing, others are shy and have difficulty meeting new people. Volunteering can give you the opportunity to practise and improve your social skills, as you're meeting regularly with a group of people with common goals or interests. Volunteering can also give you experience taking direction, delegating tasks and creating social bonds that can lead to important business and personal relationships.

Related: What Are Social Skills? (Definition, Examples and Tips)

Showcases your fit for open positions

Volunteering often requires you to be honest, hardworking and kind to others. These traits can make you an attractive candidate for companies that are looking for a committed professional. For instance, a potential employer might take an interest in your CV because of your volunteer experience in a library where you may have developed your customer service skills. This can demonstrate your ability to work with others well.

Gives you a sense of purpose

The work you complete as a volunteer is purposeful and can help other people. As a young person, doing volunteer work can help you build connections and gain experience that can change your perspective. If you're an older adult who may have lost a spouse or retired, helping other people can help keep you mentally stimulated and provide you with a regular event or appointment to look forward to. These benefits can help you feel more connected to your community.

Allows you to add experience to your CV

Volunteer work can give you valuable experience to add to your CV, especially if you're just starting your career and are still gaining solid work experience. If you plan to change careers or are a recent graduate, it may not be easy to gain work experience without being hired for a job. Pursuing volunteer work, though, can help you gain experience in a position or industry and show potential employers that you have transferrable skills that you can apply.

Related: How to Write Work Experience on a CV (With Examples)

Boosts your confidence

Volunteering can also boost your confidence in a professional setting. For instance, volunteering in a role that interests you as a career may expose you to the industry and business processes, which can help you develop your skill set. Ultimately, when you competently apply your new skills, you can boost your confidence when approaching professional situations in the future, such as networking events, career fairs or job interviews.

Helps you avoid job gaps on your CV

When you interview with job gaps in your CV, hiring managers might feel compelled to choose other candidates who have no or little gaps highlighted in their CVs. Volunteering during career transitions can provide you with something to list on your CV if you're out of work or just starting to build work experience. If you're a stay-at-home mother, for example, you can volunteer in community groups in leadership positions or with a non-profit organisation for family services to maintain and develop your skills.

Related: How to Explain Gaps in Your Employment in 6 Steps

Increases your happiness

It often feels good to contribute to projects and organisations that mean something to you. These positive feelings can help reduce the effects of anger, stress or anxiety in your life. Volunteering can provide you with the tools necessary to become a happy and well-rounded individual. Building bonds and connections with people you volunteer with may also counteract any social isolation.

Helps you stay physically healthy

Volunteer opportunities often involve physical labour that can help you remain active. It can give you the opportunity to be outside, working with others and physically contributing. Some types of volunteer opportunities that include physical activity include:

  • building homes

  • charity runs

  • working with animals

  • community gardening

  • picking up litter

Allows you to discover if you like the work

Volunteering can be a great way of learning whether the career you're pursuing is actually for you or not. Going through your education without getting any actual experience in a career may risk an eventual revelation that you don't like the industry or the career you've chosen. Volunteering allows you to bypass all those things and ensures that you're pursuing a career you enjoy.

Where to find volunteer opportunities

You can find several organisations that fit your interests, either close to home or remotely. To get started, try searching for open volunteer roles with any of the following organisations:

  • community arts groups, such as theatres or museums

  • local service organisations

  • national parks or conservation organisations

  • libraries

  • political organisations

  • food pantries

  • family shelters

  • places of worship

  • animal shelters and rescue organisations

Tips for choosing the right volunteer opportunity

Volunteering allows you to impact and connect with your community, with opportunities. Here are some tips for choosing the right volunteer opportunity for you:

  • Choose something you're passionate about: Once you've narrowed down your interests to a specific cause, try talking to a volunteer at the organisation or testing it out by volunteering for a specific project to get a sense of if it's the right fit for you. You may get to explore your interests, discover potential new ones and have fun doing so.

  • Consider pursuing popular volunteer positions: Some of the most common volunteer opportunities often include assisting at an animal shelter, planting trees at your local garden, beach or park clean-ups, talking or reading to the elderly and political campaigning. You can begin with any of these options and do a single volunteer day, then evaluate if it holds your interest.

  • Work for an organisation you believe in: After volunteering a couple of times for the same group, you might decide that this is both a cause and an organisation you support.

  • Volunteer with friends or family members: Consider asking your friends where they like to volunteer or what causes they truly care about. You can spend time together while helping your community and encouraging each other.

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