How to Personally Benefit From Volunteering for a Charity

Look for ways where your kindness can be mutually beneficial

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Photo courtesy of Flickr

Donating time and energy when volunteering for a charity is always positive — for obvious reasons. Such efforts have a wonderful impact on others, but you can also find great ways to benefit from your benevolence, both personally and professionally.

Over the years, I have done a variety of work with charitable organizations, including the SPCA, Habitat for Humanity, and a number of endeavors feeding the homeless. In doing so, I came I realize that even if unintentional, I was able to use my experience in this work to my advantage. Identifying how truly maximizes your charitable contributions. Here are some opportunities to look out for the next time you are volunteering.

Gaining new work and personal life skills

The great thing about working with a charity is that you’re rarely alone and have many opportunities to receive guidance and training. Even if it doesn’t directly relate to your profession, take a chance and learn something new. With most volunteering, there are endless things that need to be done, and even if it is something where you lack experience, there’s a good chance there is somebody else who can show you the way and potentially get you started on acquiring a new skill.

For myself, I had almost no carpentry background when I started doing work with Habitat for Humanity. However, I became part of a side project that focused on building garden sheds to accompany completed homes. There were multiple skilled carpenters involved, who eagerly instructed newbies like me in basic techniques such as framing, roofing and proper ways to do nailing and measuring. I didn’t even realize it at the time, but those tutorials have come in handy time and time again in the years since.

Exercising your expertise

As mentioned earlier, most charities have any number of needs. If you possess specific skills, the perfect time to apply them is during your volunteering. It can be quite rewarding to take the lead on something to practice or hone your expertise and not have the pressures of a boss or department head leering over you as you doggedly strive to make deadlines.

In some instances, a charity may not even know they have an ace in their pocket when it comes to their volunteers. One of my friends was regularly volunteering for an organization, which desperately needed quality photography to promote themselves on social media. Little did they know that he was a professional photographer. After he connected those dots, he not only provided them an invaluable service, but he was able to experiment with different lenses, lighting, and other methods, which he had not found time for previously but was able to later integrate into his professional work.

Building your personal relationships

Just because you’re volunteering doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. It should be looked at as the more the merrier. That means it’s a wonderful opportunity to bring along friends or loved ones to work alongside you. This is regular time carved out that otherwise might not be as easily obtained. If you can find a way to do this as a family (There can be many appropriate opportunities for children as well), all the more power to you!

My fiancé and I have found a great niche doing weekly work with our local SPCA. It not only bonds us with our love for animals, but it also serves as a dedicated time we can share together while making a positive impact. She and I have many other interests that don’t intersect, so taking advantage of ones that we have in common is vital.

Spending time in your community

Too often it’s easy to get caught up in your busy life and not interact with your community as much as you might like. Volunteering connects you with a diverse swath of neighbors and allows you to make connections that may not have been possible otherwise. If you tend to be a homebody or shy, volunteering may seem difficult, but it provides a consistent time to be active outside your home and practice social interactions that may otherwise be avoided.

Many prefer quiet neighbors, but people assisting each other can really make a community sing. Working toward common goals also contributes to identifying other areas of need beyond the organizational level and fosters cultivating ideas to address them. Simply put, neighbors working together in volunteering their time is a cumulative effect that continuously builds in positive ways.

Conclusion

Naturally, giving back and helping others should be the primary reason to volunteer for a charitable organization. However, if you’ve made the decision to donate your time, there’s no reason why you can’t make it a mutually beneficial experience and get a good return for your efforts. The first step is identifying a charity that speaks to you and your interests. Once you’ve established that and started a regular routine, make sure to figure out those ways you can make it pay off for you, too!

Written by

Dabbler in history & writing. Master’s degree in baseball history. Passionate about diversity, culture, sports and education.

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