Why People Volunteer: The Top 10 Reasons

Volunteering and civic engagement are the cornerstones of a strong nation. Citizens work together to help solve problems and make their communities better places to live and work. While people volunteer for all sorts of reasons it is beneficial for everyone.

Here is the list of the top 10 reasons people volunteer:

  1. Sense of self satisfaction: Many people like to use their free time in ways that bring them personal satisfaction and allow them to develop a positive self-image. They want to feel needed, or like to keep busy in a way that is useful, others want to earn the respect of their peers and friends while doing something useful for their community.
  2. Altruism: Many people from all economic strata believe that helping others is a necessary part of a complete and good life. Often this impulse grows out of religious beliefs or family traditions and upbringings. Sometimes when individuals have little income to spare, volunteering provides the only way to express such altruism.
  3. Companionship/meeting people: Volunteering is a great way to meet and mix with other people. It can allow you widen your circle of acquaintances and develop personal bonds. Individuals who moved to a new community, couples who have lost a spouse, adolescents and young professionals looking for a more active social life; may all look to volunteerism as a way to make a friend.
  4. Learning about a field: Volunteering is an excellent approach to learning about a particular field of interest, especially if training and learning opportunities are built into an organization’s volunteer program. Those who want to learn about foreign countries, current events, religious traditions, the arts, or a host of other fields can do so through volunteerism.
  5. Creating/maintaining an organization: Some volunteers are entrepreneurs who devote their energies to creating nonprofit organizations and helping them grow and thrive. Pride in their organization’s success and continued expansion is often a prime motivating factor in their volunteer activities.
  6. Developing professional contacts: Volunteering can put you in touch with important members of the community. Some people use volunteer jobs as a way to make contact which may lead them to clients or other business opportunities.
  7. Getting ahead in the corporation: Many profit sector corporations view employee volunteer service as an important way for the company to make a contribution to the community. Young professionals know that a volunteer position can be a real asset on a resume.
  8. Getting training/experience: For individuals, a volunteer position is a route to finding a paying job. Young people, people who have been out of the work force for some time, or people wishing to change professions will use volunteer opportunities as a way to further these personal goals. They may learn a task, gain a marketable skill, or secure a recommendation for future employment.
  9. Providing entry to a particular organization: For people who have a strong interest in working or serving on the board of an organization, volunteering provides an important entry point to becoming involved. Volunteering may be the necessary first steps on a ladder that eventually leads to a paying job or a seat on the board.
  10. Social panache: There is much prestige associated with certain organizations and their volunteers represent an elite group within the community. Association with these volunteers carries a certain degree of status and marks a person as being part of a desirable social group.

Wanting to get more involved? Please check out our summer volunteer opportunities here.

Resources:

Book: Thomas Wolf, Managing a Non-Profit Organization in the 21st Century

Website: http://www.volunteeringinamerica.gov/

Post Written By:
Audrey Kidwell
AmeriCorps VISTA
a.kidwell@umiami.edu

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