Volunteering Provides More Value Than Considered At First Glance

“Volunteers are not paid—not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.”

— Author Unknown

Never underestimate the power of volunteering—the ability to step up, be proactive, and provide your skill set, time, and dedication to the cause at hand without seeking compensation or setting quid pro quo expectations. The cause can be a charity—which most people would consider the traditional benefactor of a volunteer—or your organization, or any other entity, party, or person whom could use a helping hand.

As another item on The Self 60 – Professional Development Mind/Setvolunteering can bring more value to your employer, for instance, by providing time or service that is not necessarily based on, or benefiting, your role in the organization. The volunteering can provide skills that go outside, above, or beyond your role—an ability that might or might not be on your traditional career resume, built from previous experience but not utilized by your employer or your role.

There is always the benefit to the main benefactor, but when considering who is gaining from the volunteering experience and “transaction,” we should not count out ourselves as receiving reverberating advantages aside from knowing we did right by another. Whether in the workplace or not, here are a few underlying benefits to volunteering:

  1. Further the Work of One’s Current Role – Volunteering demonstrates your commitment and character by providing assistance in myriad ways and fashions while also demonstrating that you don’t necessarily need anything in return. It shows good faith.  Granted, there might be moments where you might volunteer your time with your current responsibilities in order to raise your profile in an organization, within a group, or in front of a higher-up in the company, but in the end all parties would be benefiting regardless of your underlying intentions. In that instance, you may be adding value to your reputation while simultaneously increasing the value of your organization or benefactor. Value to your organization can exist whether you volunteer within your organization, for your organization, or by representing your organization by working with an outside entity.  In any of those scenarios you are contributing to an elevated reputation to both yourself and your employer.
  2. Presence of a Cross-Section of Volunteers—One can also find a network of other groups and individuals when volunteering in most of those opportunities and assignments whom represent different specialties and experiences. The variety of volunteers can provide exposure to numerous industries, specializations, and attitudes foreign to your everyday environment. In the presence of such colleagues one can broaden his or her exposure and knowledge to fields or backgrounds which they might not normally come across in their usual encounters. The value of that well-rounded experience results in diversity which is immeasurable and should not be taken for granted but instead sought and appreciated.
  3. Learning NEW Aspects to Your Current Path or Career – This type of learning is not duplicative of the previously mentioned learning experience. Where that mention was based on learning a different skill from a different industry this sense of learning is targeted for someone who might not be learning anything new in their job.  It is volunteering for responsibilities that are somewhat of a one-off from current responsibilities so therefore connected to one’s current job or position. Through it, you are growing your mind and keeping it fresh for the skills that you can utilize in your current capacity.  One can escape the predictability or monotony they begin to experience if they are stuck in such a job by seeing it from a new and different angle.
  4. Reconciling Desires and Drive Beyond One’s Environment – If one’s career is not tapping into a certain part of his or her skill, demeanor, ambition, and talent, volunteering should be viewed as a complementing means to utilize, sharpen, and build on such skill sets.  In today’s economy, there always is a need somewhere that can be filled by one’s abilities.  If one were able to pay it forward by volunteering those certain services which might be underutilized in their current capacity, their effort, through a ripple effect, would positively impact that person’s local circles and economy. So, we should never underestimate the value of volunteering.

An addendum to the final benefit is that volunteering might release some inner tension one might feel by acting on their motivations and drivers.  If someone is sitting in an environment without being able to utilize their inner drivers they can become a little worn, agitated, and disengaged.  Volunteering those unused talents and abilities works like a breath of fresh air as someone can finally exhale and empty out their cache of abilities.

So one should realize that volunteering is not solely about the benefactor but also about growing and learning one’s way through the experience, picking up as much value as possible while the assignment lasts.  The value transference continues reciprocation as one considers various different volunteering opportunities to then utilize what they have learned in previous experiences.

How do you want to affect the world? In realizing these few benefits to volunteering, one should be ready to raise their hand, offer their services, and make their part of the world a better place.

So…What About You?

  • What value have you brought or can you provide to groups with which you might volunteer?
  • What is the value you have found in volunteering? What have you learned?
  • What do you seek and what is rewarding in your volunteering opportunities?

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