Why is volunteering important?
According to the most recent Americorps report on civic engagement and volunteering, Americans volunteered for an estimated 5.8 billion hours in the 12-month reporting period. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that volunteers contributed an estimated 596.2 million hours to the community in one year. In the United Kingdom, the Government Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport reports that 30 percent of respondents in the last Community Life Survey participated in formal volunteering within the previous 12 months.
These statistics demonstrate that volunteers contribute huge amounts of time and service to their community. But why is volunteering so important? This article will look at why volunteering is important for the community, for society and for the individual volunteer.
Why is volunteering important for the community?
Volunteering is a vital part of community building. It brings together people who are committed to achieving a shared outcome of making their community a better place for all. Engaging volunteers is an effective way of building a connected community, with members who share similar values and goals.
Volunteering is important for communities because it supports organizations to provide vital services to groups and individuals within the community. Often, funding for community services is limited and organizations must rely on volunteers to successfully deliver their services. For example, an organization like Meals on Wheels may receive government funding to cover the cost of the food, but the budget doesn’t stretch far enough to cover the wages of delivery drivers. This is where volunteers come in. They provide a much-needed service to the community by delivering meals to the recipients. Without the generosity of volunteers, it would be a struggle for organizations like Meals on Wheels to function effectively.
On the topic of funding, research by Volunteering and Civic Life in America has found that volunteers are almost twice as likely to donate to the charity they volunteer for, than non-volunteers are. This is primarily because volunteers see the positive impact the charity is having in the community. So, not only do volunteers donate their time and service to an organization, they often also donate money.
Without volunteers, communities wouldn’t be able to host large scale events like the Commonwealth Games. These events bring revenue and related economic benefits to communities. Rosterfy partnered with the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games to deliver their volunteer management program.
According to Andrew Newman, Director of Volunteers and Workforce for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, the 14,000 volunteers who helped deliver the 2022 Commonwealth Games were the unexpected heroes of the games and a key factor in its success.
Not only were the volunteers crucial for delivering a successful Games, the volunteer program also resulted in the volunteers feeling more connected to their community. Andrew reported that “over 99% of volunteers felt especially proud to have volunteered, with the vast majority sharing they felt a greater connection to their local community following their involvement in the Games”.
It is not just formal volunteering with an organization that is important to the community. Simply helping an elderly neighbor by carrying in their groceries, or walking their dog is providing a valuable service that fosters a sense of connection between residents of a community.
Why is volunteering important to society?
Society needs money to survive and thrive. Supporting the underprivileged, the aged, the unwell and the environment costs money. Charities and nonprofits rely on fundraising to deliver their services and support. Without volunteers, fundraising at a high level would not be possible.
Volunteers use their time and skills to raise funds for organizations, and they also use their existing networks and connections. An organization’s volunteers can be their biggest ambassadors. When volunteers share with their friends, family and colleagues how they engage with an organization, and the reason for doing so, they are creating awareness of the organization and its activities. This awareness and recognition can help build a sense of trust which is important when organizations are soliciting donations and building their donor base.
There are several economic benefits of volunteering. From an economic perspective, a skilled workforce is crucial to increase innovation, productivity and creativity in society. Hard skills like carpentry, landscaping and IT, as well as soft skills such as teamwork, time management and interpersonal skills can all be learnt through volunteering. Having a larger skilled workforce generally results in a society with a stronger economy.
Natural disaster support
When society is impacted by a natural disaster, volunteers are a vital part of the emergency response management. Volunteers become involved with all aspects of the recovery process from the cleanup, organizing emergency accommodation, and providing counseling and pastoral care, to helping lodge insurance claims and giving advice on relevant government services and funding available.
Protecting the environment
Volunteers contribute to the health of the environment, and more generally the planet, both of which are needed for society to exist. Environmental volunteering such as park and beach clean-ups, or tree planting days are a way for volunteers to be out in nature while caring for the planet at the same time.
Why is volunteering important for an individual?
There are often many individual benefits of volunteering too. Some of these include:
Health and wellbeing
Research has found that 77% of volunteers have an improvement in their mental health after volunteering, with 53% reporting that volunteering improved their physical health too.
When volunteers see what their efforts are achieving and the impact they are having on their community, their sense of accomplishment and purpose along with general confidence will likely increase.
Volunteering can bring variety into a volunteer’s life and a change from the mundane of the everyday. For volunteers with a desk job who spend their work days cooped up in an office, getting involved in volunteering outdoors is a way to get some sunshine and fresh air while doing something productive.
Similarly, volunteering can provide a means to embrace creativity if volunteers do not have another outlet for this. Writing social media posts for a nonprofit or photographing shelter animals who are looking for their forever home are activities that put creative skills to use.
Volunteering can often include physical activity with tasks like walking whilst collecting litter in a park or lifting chairs to set up for an event in a church hall. Although it is not what is generally considered as typical exercise, these tasks still get people moving and active.
Volunteering is an ideal way of meeting new people and making new friends. As there are similar interests, passions and values between volunteers, it is relatively easy to break the ice with another volunteer and develop a connection with them. This can be especially helpful if a volunteer has relocated to a new area and is looking to develop new friendships.
Volunteering teaches empathy which leads to displays of kindness. People are drawn to kindness so volunteers will likely have many people wanting to build relationships with them.
A volunteer opportunity can provide behind the scenes access to sports events, festivals, and concerts, enabling volunteers to experience events in a way the general public can’t. Similarly, volunteering abroad allows volunteers to visit new places, interact with different cultures and leave an impact on people around the world, in a way that leisure travelers cannot.
For high school students, learning new skills, as well as being able to demonstrate commitment to a cause, are both beneficial for college applications.
Job seekers can use volunteering as an effective way to develop skills and gain experience in an industry they would like to be employed in. Volunteering is also a useful way to fill in employment gaps on a resume.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this article on why is volunteering important. Volunteering is important in many ways, including for the community, society and individual volunteers. Volunteers provide support and service to charitable and nonprofit organizations by offering their time, skills and expertise. This is essential for organizations to fulfill their purpose in building communities and contributing to society. Although volunteers don’t receive monetary reward for their efforts, they often receive health, social and skills development benefits in return.
Rosterfy exists to connect communities to events and causes they are passionate about through volunteer and paid workforce management technology. Our proven end to end technology allows charities, events and nonprofit organizations to recruit, register, screen, train, manage and report with ease, replacing manual processes with automations to better engage and retain your volunteers and paid staff.
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