It’s a common question to ask those who volunteer why they do what they do. Between the demands of work, personal life and everyday responsibilities, why do people enthusiastically spend their time helping out without pay, and sometimes in less-than-stellar environs? Volunteering is surely an investment in time and energy, and it is no small feat on the part of the volunteer. There are plenty of reasons to volunteer, according to volunteers we know, and here’s several of the common ones:
To give back to the community
Volunteering is an act of service, and many volunteers are compelled to offer their time and effort to give back to the community. Whether it’s the community that helped to raise them or one that holds a special place in their heart, volunteers help in community building by supporting the non-profit organisations that make the community.
To find meaning
Sometimes in today’s fast-paced world, people feel they can easily lose sight of what’s truly important in their lives, especially when their work and personal lives have different priorities. Many people volunteer to give meaning to their lives, and they find that being in an environment where they get to exercise kindness and provide joy to others helps to reacquaint them with important values.
To inspire and be inspired
There are people who may have touched us with their enthusiasm for giving to others, and this enthusiasm is shared by new volunteers who have witnessed this in other volunteers they know. Volunteering inspires others because many times it is not an easy act, and those who are inspired naturally inspire others to volunteer too, creating a ripple effect of volunteers.
To continue the deed of those who volunteer
Volunteers engage in activities that allow them to extend the good deeds of those who have volunteered or served others before. Whether because of shared mission to clean the environment or empower street children, many people find continuity important in volunteerism, especially if they are able to serve as the bridge and continue the good acts of those who have come before them.
To satisfy an inherent desire to volunteer
There are also volunteers who have a deep need to engage in volunteer activities, whether by their upbringing or mission in life. These volunteers are typically proactive in seeking opportunities to help out without an external motivator encouraging them to do so.
To learn more about other lifestyles and cultures
Volunteering is also a time for learning. Some volunteers select their activities based on interests that they have, or curiosities they want to explore. They get to learn about the beneficiaries they interact with. Many volunteers discover how differently others live through their volunteer activities, which can be eye opening.
To meet like-minded people
Being a volunteer doesn’t just end in meeting the members of a non-profit organization or its beneficiaries. In fact, volunteers find that they can easily meet and make friends among their volunteer group, particularly because volunteerism gathers people together with common interests to help others without expecting anything in return.
To put their special talents to good use
Some volunteers have special talents and creative endeavors that they want to nurture, but find that their work or personal situation may not be the best outlet for it. In their desire to develop their capabilities, they look for avenues to exercise these skills, and many non-profit organizations welcome this opportunity to be the recipient of talent that would’ve gone unnoticed otherwise.
To reach a goal in life
Like many people, a number of volunteers have certain personal goals, but their priority is toward helping others. Some might have religious beliefs that prioritizes serving others. Volunteering is a way for them to reach their goals in being helpful to others.
To have fun!
Many people think volunteering is tedious or require great labor. In fact, many volunteers will tell you that volunteering is a fun activity. You may get to go outside of the city to help out in a tree planting program, or explore a side of the city you’ve never encountered before. Other times, it’s the camaraderie and goodwill shared among volunteers that make it fun.
In a world where people are always given incentives to begin something, it’s almost counter-intuitive why volunteers do what they do. Yet these reasons shed light on the motivations and intentions of volunteers that makes their volunteer work worthwhile. Most volunteers complete their volunteer activity with a smile on their faces, having reached a goal, satisfied a desire, discovered something new, or simply completed a task for another person’s benefit. So go ahead, talk to one and ask them their reason for volunteering!
by Kristine Fetalco, iVolunteer Philippines