It is one of the beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely help another without helping himself.
Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Volunteering is any activity that involves putting in your unpaid time, energy and skills for the greater good. New Zealand is a leading nation in the contribution made by volunteers.
A 2013 study of the New Zealand non-profit sector estimated that volunteers contribute more than 157 million unpaid hours of work, valued at over $3.5 billion to non-profit organisations.
Volunteering for good
Volunteering is good for the volunteer, the community and the social development of the country because it helps build the social fabric that keeps us connected and engaged in our world.
Volunteers create positive change on many fronts – human rights, faith communities, health, education, sports and recreation, social services, arts and culture, emergency services, the environment and conservation, animal welfare and community support development – the list is endless.
But what do volunteers get by sharing their time, skills and expertise to help others?
Top five benefits of volunteering
- Better job prospects: Volunteering at an organisation that interests you can help you gain valuable job skills and experience to add to your CV. By volunteering, you show your interest and enthusiasm for a type of work or organisation and that makes you attractive to future employers. Voluntary work can also put you in contact with the right people in an organisation, who can see first-hand what you are like on the job.
- A chance to contribute to a great cause and make a difference to your community: Volunteering can help you feel part of something outside your immediate friends and family. It allows you to connect to your wider community and make a difference beyond the needs of your own networks.
- Enrich your life with new experiences: Volunteering gives you the chance to have new experiences, meet new people from all walks of life and get out of your comfort zone. These experiences can give you a sense of confidence, empathy, understanding and awareness, which can all enrich everyday life.
- Develop your existing skills, knowledge and experience: Choosing to volunteer by teaching, coaching or helping others in an area of interest or expertise will further develop your own skills, knowledge and experience at the same time.
- Better health: Volunteering your time for an individual, group or organisation also makes you feel good and that benefits your health and wellbeing. Volunteering has also been proven to help extend your life and reduce depression.
I want to volunteer, but I don’t have time – how can I help?
Here are five ways you can give back to your community and volunteer if you don’t have time to commit to a permanent volunteering role.
- Collect for charity: Organisations like St John, the SPCA and the Blind Foundation need volunteers for their annual collection weeks. To assist, you can offer your time for around two hours to collect in your local community.
- Use your skills to help fundraise: Can you bake, sew, knit, run or juggle? You can use these talents to fundraise in your office, school or community for a charity or organisation of your choice. The annual SPCA Cupcake Day is a great example.
- Become a coach, tutor or friend to those in need: Do you have an interest or hobby you can share? Why not coach or manage a school soccer or netball team, help tutor children how to read, spend time with the ill, or mentor at-risk youth. Ask at your local sports organisation, school, or hospital how you can help.
- Assist a neighbour or the elderly in your community: Can you help an elderly neighbour with a task in their home, or assist them to get to the supermarket, library or a medical appointment once or twice a month? They say charity begins at home, and helping your neighbours will add to a safer, happier and more connected neighbourhood.
- Help out at a clean-up day or working bee: Beach clean-up days, or school or church working bees are good ways of getting involved and also staying active. You can find out about local events by checking supermarket noticeboards, talking to your neighbours, local schools and churches, or by joining a neighbourhood website.
Are you ready to get volunteering?
Before searching for your ideal volunteer role we recommend making a list of skills you have to offer and ways you would like to help in your community or area of interest.
Armed with this knowledge, you are ready to find your perfect volunteering match.