Some people volunteer to make new friends. Others give back because it just feels good. There are many reasons people volunteer, beyond the simple goodness of their hearts (though that’s certainly an important one!). And oftentimes, it’s a combination of factors that motivates a person to begin—and continue—volunteering.
We’ve ranked ten of the many motives people have for giving back in their communities and beyond. What’s your biggest reason for volunteering?
1. Make an impact: Looking to make a real, lasting difference in this world? Unlike other aspects of life you may not be able to control, volunteering allows you to choose where and how to make a difference. It’s easy to get inspired with a cause you truly care about—and it’s rewarding to see your direct impact.
2. Strengthen communities: From cleaning up a street to reading to kids at the local library, you can enhance your own life by improving the areas where you work, live and play. A strong community with a high quality of life means safer, healthier lives for you and those around you.
3. Meet others: Looking to broaden your network or find others with similar interests? Volunteering is a great outlet for meeting others. A local club or organization can put you face-to-face with people right in your community—plus, it’s easy to bond over a shared passion. You can create lasting friendships with those you may not have otherwise met in your day-to-day grind.
4. Improve your health: Yes! Volunteering is actually good for you. Studies have shown that volunteering makes people feel physically healthier, manage chronic health conditions and lower stress!
5. Take the lead: Often what a great effort needs most is a great leader. If you see a cause that needs a push or a group that needs a head—take the lead! Many find leadership rewarding in itself because of the opportunity to share their passion, value and inspiration with others. When you take a leadership role, you also have the ability shape the world around you in the ways you choose.
6. Share expertise: Everyone has a skill or experience from which someone else can benefit. If you aren’t putting your talents to their best use in your everyday life (or even if you are!), volunteering can be a prime way to share. Get out in your community and put your skills—from teaching to sewing—toward helping others. You may be surprised at how your own abilities sharpen when you share your knowledge.
7. Improve skills—or learn new ones: Want to learn basic carpentry, improve your cooking or discover how something works? Classes and courses can come at a cost—but volunteering is free! Why not begin your learning at no charge with an organization or opportunity where you can learn by doing?
8. Up your resume ante: Considering a career shift? Want to try out a new field before taking the leap? A volunteering gig can be a perfect way to fill a knowledge or employment gap. It can also be a valuable addition to a resume if you’re applying to a new job or graduate school program.
9. Find new opportunities: Doors open when you volunteer. You can widen your social network, discover an organization in your community or finally talk to the person you always see on the bus! Who knows: You may even stumble across your dream job by meeting your future colleague or next job reference.
10. Because it just feels good: We thought it was worth a mention!