Like so many others; I volunteer. I’m passionate about my belief in society’s need to build social capital, and feel a level of responsibility to support communities to work together to function effectively – to tackle some of the challenges we face, and to secure bright futures for generations to come.
But why? One of the questions I frequently get asked is “why do you do it?”. I’m afraid I don’t have a polished answer. Something deep inside drives me to try and make whatever difference I can – not always successfully – but with an underlying desire to make the world (or whatever part of it is in focus) better. All quite vague words, right?! There’s a chance my Mum might be to blame, and the answer might be as simple as that!
There’s plenty of research out there about volunteering and how it can:
- Improve your mental wellbeing, resilience and empathy;
- Improve your physical health and increase levels of activity;
- Ensure you’re better connected with those around you and help you to build stronger networks;
- Develop your skills, often in ways education and employment simply can’t;
- Support you in changing career paths or in more rapidly developing your career;
- Make you more tolerant and more adaptable;
- And that’s just a short list; some brief searching on the Internet will reveal many studies.
But; I think many of these, however valid and life-changing, are side effects. They happen as a result of you finding something you’re passionate about; then giving freely of your precious time, and adding a little effort, to see what impact you can have. With no monetary reward; you’ll only keep doing it if you develop an emotional attachment with what you’re achieving – whether your time affects the lives of others, or the communities or causes you’re serving.
What is likely to really motivate you is a strong sense of pride in the difference you make – and, the future potential difference. In some cases, you may never see your true impact – that may come many years down the line.
In a world where the public purse simply cannot afford all the services our communities need for us to be effective, there are many opportunities to volunteer your time and make a real difference.
If you already volunteer; thank you – for giving of the most precious thing you have – your time.
If you don’t; give it some thought – there are people, communities and causes who need your time, skills, energy and effort. You can get started at places like Do-It.org.
So; ‘why do you do it?’… answers on a postcard, please! Each of our stories will be personal ones and likely to have a level of uniqueness.