6.3. Why volunteer?

There are many reasons why people decide to volunteer. Usually the decision is connected with the feeling of wanting to help others . However, it is also ok to want some benefits for yourself from volunteering.

There is a long tradition of seeing volunteering as a form of charity of sacrificing yourself for others. Therefore volunteering is also often regarded as something difficult and tiring especially psychologically, more of a calling than an activity for the average person. Indeed, volunteering involves the desire to serve others however it does not exclude other motivations, as well.

Volunteering should be about creating a win-win situation for all parties involved. Others should gain something from your help but you should also enjoy what you are doing, learn a new skill or just have a chance to meet new and interesting people.

Volunteering is also associated with an increased likelihood of finding employment for individuals out of work or those aiming for their first job. Based on research findings from the Corporation for National Community Service in the United States, volunteering is associated with a 27% higher odds of employment. This is so because volunteering allows to expand the network of contacts, improves the resume, allows to improve or learn new skills and knowledge and generally sends a signal to an employer that an individual is motivated and productive, providing a competitive advantage to the job-seeker. Therefore a win-win situation is created as the volunteer is able to improve its job seeking chances while making a positive impact on the community.

However, there are many more reason why people want to volunteer. Here are just a few identified.

Your reasons for volunteering are as individual as you are, but no matter what your reasons you can get a lot out of volunteering. Think about it, what makes you want to volunteer?

  • to feel needed
  • to share a skill
  • to get to know a community
  • to get to know what you like
  • to demonstrate commitment to a cause/belief
  • to gain leadership skills
  • learn a new language
  • to act out a fantasy
  • to do your civic duty
  • because of pressure from a friend or relative
  • to keep busy
  • for recognition
  • to repay a debt
  • to donate your professional skills
  • because there is no one else to do it
  • to have an impact
  • to learn something new
  • to help a friend or relative
  • to become an “insider”
  • guilt
  • to be challenged
  • to feel proud
  • to make new friends
  • to explore a career
  • to help someone
  • as therapy
  • to do something different from your job
  • for fun!
  • for religious reasons
  • to earn academic credit
  • to keep skills alive
  • to have an excuse to do what you love
  • to assure progress
  • to feel good
  • to be part of a team
  • because you were asked
  • to test yourself
  • to build your resume
  • to be an agent of change
  • because of personal experience with the problem, illness, or cause