By Farzana Zahra
I was always asked by people around me what do I get in return when I do volunteerism work. Are you really happy with what you are doing? You are not even being paid for your job. They posed me this sort of question.
Little did they know that volunteerism has actually changed my life. Volunteerism helped me to gain my self-esteem and to become more grateful. Doing something without being paid is actually one of the hardest things to do because it requires strength. Just imagine yourself doing something that requires a lot of effort and in return you get nothing. Not many people can join volunteerism activities and some might hate it.
Since I work in a non-profit organisation, the spirit of volunteerism in me is higher than people around me. The purpose of a non-profit or a charitable organisation is to benefit the general public. Also, it serves both the public interest or brings mutual benefits. Being a non-profit organisation does not mean that the organisation does not generate profit, but simply that it does not generate revenue for the purpose of harvesting income.
Let me tell you something, volunteerism might seem meaningless to some but for me it means the world. Volunteerism makes a specific contribution by contributing towards the well-being of the people and the community, that is why I find it satisfying. I started to join volunteerism work when I was 20 years old and back then it was my curiosity that drove me to become a volunteer. I hesitated to do it at first but my inner feelings had urged me to challenge myself. It ended up that I could not help myself but to join volunteerism programme.
What is volunteerism?
Some readers might ask what is volunteerism all about and what is so special about joining volunteerism. So, let us go deeper to find out about the meaning of volunteerism and the benefit you derive from it. Volunteerism is the practice or involvement in activities of providing your time and using your skills for the benefit of other people. It concerns more on meeting the people’s need rather than doing it for financial gains. It is an unpaid activity where you give your time to help a non-profit organisation or an individual in need of your support.
In organisational context, volunteerism refers to the company practice whereby the employer encourages and supports the employees who want to go into volunteerism work by providing them the necessary tools and support. Other than that, employers may also extend them paid leave and some kind of sponsorship. Basically in organisational context, volunteerism is concerned with the methods and tools employers use to support their employees who are interested to participate in such activities.
Benefits of volunteerism
1. Volunteerism helps us connect with others
People all over the world including me have been engaged in volunteerism for many great reasons. First and foremost, it helps us to connect with other people from another country or within our own country. Volunteerism allows us to connect to our own community and make it a better place. Even helping out with the smallest task can make a real difference to the lives of people, animals and others. People always remember those who help them even with the smallest act of kindness. Dedicating our time as a volunteer helps us to make new friends, expand our networking, and boost our social skills.
One of the best ways to make new friends and to strengthen existing relationships is to do activities together. Volunteerism is a great way to meet new people, especially if we are new in a particular area. It strengthens our ties with the community and expose us to people with common interests and doing some fulfilling activities. Other than that, volunteerism also helps us to develop our social skills since we are meeting with the people who share the same interest with us.
2. Volunteerism is good for our mind and body
Volunteerism is also good for both physical and body health. As a human being, the act of helping and working with others can have a deep effect on our overall psychological well-being. Nothing relieves stress better than a meaningful connection with another person. For me personally, doing any volunteerism activity makes me happy. Researchers have discovered that being helpful to others delivers immense pleasure. Human beings are naturally born with the act of having to give to others. The more we give, the happier we feel.
As mentioned earlier, volunteerism helps me to increase my self-esteem. Why do I say that? It is because we are doing something for others and the community which provides a natural sense of accomplishment. Next, our role as volunteers can also give us a sense of pride and identity. The better we feel about others and ourselves, the more positive that we can become.
Doing a volunteer work can help us to stay fit and physically healthy. Studies have shown a lower mortality rate among those who are involved in voluntarism work than those who do not. In this field, volunteers are not only limited to young people but also open for older people. Since volunteering work requires a lot of physical activities, it really helps older volunteers to become fit as well. Older volunteers tend to walk more, find it easier to cope with everyday tasks, are less likely to develop high blood pressure, and develop better thinking skills.
3. Volunteerism advances our career
Volunteerism can help us to gain new experience in our area of interest and meet people in that particular field. It gives us the opportunity to learn important skills that may be used at workplace such as teamwork, communication, problem solving and critical thinking. We might use these skills once we enter the workplace and we will feel comfortable to use it.
Although volunteers work do not get paid it does not mean that the skills that that we acquired are basic. Many volunteering opportunities provide extensive training. For example, we could become an experienced crisis counsellor while volunteering. Moreover, volunteering can also help us to build upon skills that we already have and use them to benefit the greater community. For instance, improving in our public speaking, communication, and marketing skills.
4. Volunteerism brings fun and fulfilment to our life
Volunteering is fun and it’s an easy way to explore our interests and passions. Doing such work that we find meaningful and interesting can be relaxing, and an energising escape from our day-to-day routine work, school, or family commitment. Volunteering also provides us with renewed energy, creativity, motivation, and vision that can carry us into our personal and professional life.
Many people are doing volunteerism work to make time for hobbies outside of normal work. For instance, if we work at the office and spend the entire eight hours at our desk, we might not have any chance to spend time outdoors. Then, we might consider volunteering to help with a community garden, to help out with the needy children or maybe to involve in activities with the old folks.
5. Volunteerism is about passion and positivity
We cannot deny that learning new skills can be beneficial to many people, but it is not a requirement for a fulfilling volunteer experience. Bear in mind that the most valuable thing that you acquire when you become a volunteer is compassion, an open mind, a willingness to do whatever is needed, and a positive attitude.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi-
It takes more to volunteering than just raising a hand. I believe every volunteer in this world offers more than his or her time and effort. We should therefore value each and every volunteer for their motivation, courage, commitment and kindness.
People must know that volunteering is a non-formal way of learning, enabling us to test our boundaries, push our limits, expand our knowledge, explore diversity, and meeting people of diverse backgrounds.
By volunteering one does not only get the opportunity to develop useful skills but also to increase a sense of responsibility and empathy. Go ahead and volunteer! ***