The Benefits of Volunteering

If you haven’t considered volunteering, you really, really should. There are so many reasons to volunteer, we had to write them down!

volunteer

Photo credit: Ryuugakusei

Learn about an organization

By becoming a volunteer at an organization you are allowed to see the internal workings of an organization. You can see how things work there, the organizational culture, and the interpersonal interactions. Usually within a few days you will have a good idea what attitude your co-workers have towards the organization, and this is very telling. If the members of an organization are not enthusiastic about the place they work, it probably is not the sort of place you want to be. Wouldn’t you rather find this out before you beat off competition to get a job there?

Find out if you are suited to a development career

Volunteering allows you to try out development work to see whether it’s something you are interested in. True, you may not be given the most challenging and fun roles around, but you can easily see what other people’s jobs’ involve and by talking to them, the realities of a career in development. Bear in mind that you are only experiencing the roles, attitudes and stories of one organization – if it seems terrible, that may be unique to this organization and vice versa.

Networking opportunities

For some, networking is a necessary chore, but the great thing about volunteering is that you are building your network without even trying. Every time you interact with a colleague or meet a new person you are building your network!

Create a job opportunity for yourself

In so many development organizations, particularly non-profits, there is such a shortage of manpower your work may become so invaluable that they are willing to create a paid position to keep you! Sometimes you will be first offered a small remuneration (stipend) to keep you, but as time goes on, you may be able to negotiate further increases, until you have a full-salaried position.

Snap up any openings

Due to the informal nature of non-profits, hiring processes are often done internally. From seeing your work, you are already a known factor to the hirers, and close at hand and instantly available. Assuming you have done well with your voluntary work, all this makes you a very attractive option to fill any new vacancy!

Gain experience

There is no better way of gaining experience than learning on the job. Almost every job in development requires X number of years of experience. By volunteering, you are starting along the road of gaining that experience.

Gain new skills

Not only will you be practising your existing skills, you will be coming into contact with new situations, requiring new skills. While this may be difficult at first, developing new skills set

Identify your weak points

If there are tasks you struggle at, you can mark these down as areas you need to gain knowledge in or develop new skills for.

Strengthen your CV

With all those benefits, you have a great opportunity to increase your marketability. On top of that, being a volunteer shows that you have a degree of commitment that is often very valued.

More

There’s more, I’m sure. Can you think of any to add?

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One Response to “The Benefits of Volunteering”

  1. Avatar Scott Says:

    This is a great article about the benefits of volunteering. I like that you point out that those who volunteer with a nonprofit are able to grow their network of people they know. I can see why this could be a good decision for someone who is just starting their career and need experience as well as connections. My brother will be graduating from college in the spring. He might think it helpful to begin working at a nonprofit now so that he has that experience and network built up by the time he graduates.

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