Why Volunteerism Matters
It may seem obvious but people depend on you. The social sector, which sits at the intersection of the public and private sectors, serves the neediest populations in the United States. Unfortunately there are no reliable statistics on just how many people benefit from nonprofit services, but it’s safe to assume it’s over one hundred million given that nearly 65 million volunteer annually.
Beside the practical need for your service, why does volunteerism matter? Let’s start with the personal advantages.
It Adds Perspective
No matter which cause you choose to support, getting into the trenches of service provides a different perspective on the issue you are facing. Stepping outside of ourselves to give time to another creates a deeper level of empathy.
It Adds Time
Not physical time, but studies show that volunteering will make one feel as if they have more time. It’s a pretty simple psychological trick, but if you are able to give time to others you begin to realize you have extra time in your life. An added benefit to feeling like you have more time is that your productivity increases as a result.
It Boosts Your Resume
A recent study by Deloitte states that one is far more likely to be chosen for a position if they have volunteer experience on their resume. However a simple resume boost is not the ultimate benefit. Volunteering your professional skills (ex: web design) can significantly boost your market appeal as most employers view skills-based volunteerism as an effective leadership training experience.
If you are unemployed, or underemployed, skills-based volunteerism may be your ticket to fulfilling work, professional growth, and ultimately a job that fits your passion. Companies like Catchafire help match nonprofit needs with individuals that may help, and their effectiveness is objectively high.
Beyond the personal advantages, the social sector relies on volunteers to meet an ever-increasing need for service. More specifically:
It Magnifies Giving
The value of service provided by individuals was $193B in 2016. By comparison the total amount donated by an Individual was $281B for the same period. The value of giving your time allows an organization to do measurably more with their existing fundraising base. Just think, if volunteerism went away, the social sector would need to increase its fundraising goals by 69%!
It Spreads Awareness
As individuals volunteer, they become more vested in the mission, and ultimately share this with people closest to them. Whether it’s a social media post, dinner party conversation, or inviting someone to join them in volunteering through MobileServe, a mini-campaign has begun.
A perfect example of the power of awareness is the Ice Bucket Challenge from 2014, which was a competition to raise awareness for ALS. This challenge led to more than 2.4 million people spreading the word about a relatively unknown disease and leading to over 739,000 new donors to the cause.
Here at Access Ventures we think about impact in numerous ways, one of which is generational impact. How do our efforts today lead to a better tomorrow for the next generation? For many nonprofits, this is a very visible outcome of their efforts. Take for example the Boys and Girls Club, where volunteers give their time to mentor, coach, or tutor children in need. The success of this program has increased high-school graduation by 40%, college enrollment by 19%, reducing drug use by 39%. These outcomes place the child on a different trajectory than ones that do not enroll in the program.
The benefits listed here are only a handful of the many reasons why volunteerism matters. Please consider giving your time to a worthy cause in your local community.