Have you been thinking of giving your time for a good cause? Well, I can’t say that you absolutely should become a volunteer, but maybe I can help you think about it to make a wise decision. With this current pandemic, many people found themselves displaced in between jobs, going on interviews or close to retiring and had some extra time to fill.
Maybe a friend or colleague of yours asks if you’d like to volunteer at an organization where they work at. You wonder if it’ll be worthwhile and if you should.
I found myself out of work twice while living in Florida. One of them was a long-term temp job and the company was eliminating all temp workers. I was more less thinking of the new apartment I had just moved into and the car I just bought and how I was going to pay for them when I got the news. At that time, my mind was on quickly finding a new job – not in volunteering my time. But that was a different era in our economy, we weren’t in a recession then and a couple of months later I did have a new job.
Today, many people are out of work for long periods of time and it can be frustrating going from one interview to another without an offer. Breaking up that extra time by volunteering can be what the doctor orders. The saying is true that an idle mind is not a good thing and so let’s consider some pros of volunteering even if but for a short time:
- Volunteering can actually help you improve or keep your soft skills in tact. It is so important that you keep using your talents so that you’ll be ready for when that job offer comes. You’ll find you won’t need a lot of time on the job re-learning skills.
- You get to work with other people of like interest. Networking is a HUGE thing in our culture. You may actually meet someone who knows about or can recommend you for the perfect job you’ve been looking for. Also, you can make new friends and gain connections you otherwise might not have.
- Giving back is rewarding. This is so true. Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” What that means is when you give out of your heart not looking to receive something back, you always receive more than what you initially gave out. Just knowing that you’re helping someone less fortunate or that you’re helping to make your community a better place to live not only encourages someone else, but uplifts your spirits and makes you feel useful. All of us have a divine purpose.
- You may actually learn new skills that can translate to your career. In a volunteer scenario you can manage people, be a project leader, brainstorm new ideas, customer service, sales, fundraising, implement policies, and all of these skills are essential to know in just about every industry where they can open doors for promotion or opportunities that otherwise might not have been there.
- Keeps you busy when you’re retired. Perhaps you’re retired, semi-retired or considering retirement, volunteering is a great way to stay involved with the community you live in, make a difference, and keeps your mind sharp!
Working together with others of like interests can be very rewarding.
Are there points to think about? Yes, let’s consider these:
- Be sure that the health protocols are in place. In these trying times, you want to pick an opportunity that can help others but not by putting your own health at risk. Non-profit organizations should have specific rules for COVID-19 like social distancing in place.
- Volunteering can be as busy as a job. So, when you are thinking of an organization or non-profit to work with, take the time to consider how much time is going to be needed to do what you’re wanting to do. Then check your schedule to see if it lines up so you don’t over-extend yourself. Also, find out if it would be full-time, part-time or seasonal. The last thing you want to do is burn out on a volunteer job.
- Volunteering is hard work. While that’s true, any job is hard work when you care about what you do. But, in knowing that ahead of time you won’t be surprised once you’ve given your word that you would help. Nothing’s worse than backing out of a decision, because you didn’t think it through thoroughly.
- What are you getting out of volunteering your time? The whole word volunteer means you’re giving yourself without monetary return, so you have to weigh the other benefits of what you’ll receive such as: (a) including this opportunity to your resume; (b) sense of satisfaction; (b) educational benefits; (c) chance to work in an industry you’ve always wanted to; and (d) credit for the work you do. Receiving credit may get other companies to learn who you are and reach out to you.
- What support will you receive? Sometimes, working with a volunteer organization may mean little to no support from others. You’ll want to know this upfront so that you don’t find yourself doing 90% of the work with no assistance.
- Research reviews for the specific organization you’re considering volunteering for. You want to pick an establishment that has a good track record of helping others so that you know the work you’ll be doing will truly make an impact.
So, though I’ve mentioned only a few points, I’m sure there’s much more so I would recommend doing a lot of homework before you commit to anything.
Volunteering is a good activity to consider that can keep you both positive and motivated. The rewards can far outweigh a regular job in terms of monetary gain but you still need to be sure that it’s the right thing to do for your current situation.