Giving Is Receiving: The Value Of Volunteering by Cindy Stradling CSL, CPC

It can become very easy to get caught up in simply getting things done on a daily basis. For those in leadership roles in a business, for entrepreneurs or for people juggling multiple roles in their professional and personal lives, it is very easy to get wrapped up in simply checking “must do” items off a list.

While some items on the “must do” list may offer satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment or personal fulfillment, this is not likely to the majority of the items. To make things more precise, the sense of fulfillment or accomplishment may be in just being able to check it off, not in the intrinsic value of completing the task.

Adding Something New

While the thought of adding something new to your life may seem counterproductive, there is one activity that has proven positive results. Adding some form of volunteering to your life can provide that deep, meaningful and fulfilling activity you have been searching to find.

In studies, including those completed by Harvard University and the Carnegie Melon University, volunteering was shown to reduce the risk of depression, increases social connections and create a unique sense of community and social responsibility. However, these same studies also showed a link between regular volunteering and lower blood pressure, lower self-rating on stress scales as well as increased physical activity.

Finding a Volunteering Opportunity

Volunteering, like any other activity, is always more meaningful and beneficial if you are passionate about the service you are providing. Linking with an organization in an area of your personal interests, passions, and talents is always a benefit for everyone involved.

Start by thinking of the things you love to do. Take the time to make a list of those activities, talents, and skills, and then look at community agencies, private groups, charities and organizations that may be looking for people with those skill sets.

For example, if you love to learn, look for a group that provides volunteers for tutoring, or perhaps working with adult literacy or supporting those returning to school after time away. Individuals with strong people skills may want to work with a group or an agency that helps the homeless in developing a resume and finding work. Volunteering at an emergency shelter or welcoming people new to a city or an area may be a great way to use your natural skills and talents.

While volunteering should be altruistic and not done for personal advancement, volunteering is often a way to meet like-minded people in your community and to extend your professional network.

In some cases, it may even lead to a larger corporate focus for a company. It can become a way for the company to give back to the community on a larger scale, which is a win-win situation for all involved.