Volunteering for Growth – Two Birds, One Stone

I have long loved volunteering – long been committed to supporting, enabling and celebrating volunteering in all its diversity.

I have done a lot over the years but there has been so much going on in life for the last few years that I am not currently volunteering in any capacity. And I’ve just realised in the last few days that – I miss it!

My new job is great, my little company is motoring along quite nicely (VERY excited to have a new client this week for whom I will be doing a brand refresh and from scratch website build!) and aside from some pretty hefty political turmoil in the world I have no reason to be in the slightest bit dissatisfied.

Yet it has felt that something is missing and my recent realisation was that it was having something bigger than myself and my little life. So …

I usually find volunteering opportunities through http://www.Do-It.org (A great website BTW where you can search a HUGE range of opportunities but location) but in looking over the last few weeks have struggled to find anything that fits.

That’s not to say there aren’t a huge amount of opportunities out there but I need something that fits around work and OurOtherOffice and opportunities with that kind of flexibility seem few and far between.

And then inspiration struck, why not combine my two passions? So today I am putting some meat on the bones of my plan to offer my time and services through ‘Our Other Office’ free of charge to local charities.

And whilst doing the necessary research for writing and building a new web page for this offering and constructing a MailChimp campaign to see if anyone will be interested in taking it up I have gathered the makings of a blog on why volunteering is such a wonderful, life enhancing and personally/ professionally gratifying thing to do.

Herewith my top 5 reasons why you should be thinking about it too …

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  1. It’s Good For Your Health

Many studies have found that when we stop thinking about your own problems and focus on someone other than ourselves we not only have the capacity to help them but reap our own benefits.

Your stress levels start to decrease, your immune system is strengthened and your overall sense of life satisfaction increases.

This is because helping someone else interrupts inward focus and stress building patterns and replaces it with a sense of purpose, positive emotions and high confidence levels. It is all a matter of keeping things in perspective really.

Peer support doesn’t just work one way,” says Dr Casiday. “Even if you’re in a mentoring role, simply talking to someone else who is struggling with the same issue can support you as well. It’s not just an act of charity. In a lot of cases, the volunteer is helped as much as the patient.

2. Develop Your Soft Skills

Emotional Intelligence is a big buzz word at the moment, employers in particular love a candidate with a range of soft skills but they can also enhance all the other areas of your life.

emotional intelligence
noun

the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically

Volunteering without a doubt gives you plenty of opportunity to develop the soft skills that are essential to anyone wanting to be a well rounded and high functioning individual in every sphere of their life.

When volunteering you can be faced with problems on a daily basis, you have to deal with a mix of personalities and all this whilst adjusting to life outside of your comfort zone. This kind of character building and varied experience is immeasurable in helping you to improve your teamwork, leadership, problem-solving and people skills.

3. A Real-World Experience

Another amazing motivator for volunteering is the insightful, real-world experiences that volunteers gain in the field. Get ready to gain a hands-on experience, to get stuck in.

Often in the real world of work it can be difficult to escape the confines of your job description and if you are the kind of person who likes to get creative and be on a constant learning curve this can be quite confining.

Being just that kind of person I have always seen volunteering as an opportunity to flex the muscles that I don’t really get to flex in my day to day role as an Executive Assistant kind of the same reason for starting up Our Other Office really but with a hefty amount of altruism thrown in) There is nothing unusual about having a job that doesn’t tick all of your boxes, there is something wrong with not doing anything to seek out ways to tick those boxes yourself.

Pick your passion and then you get to live your dream in real life!

4. Career Boosting

Did you know volunteering is an excellent way to boost your career prospects? So just what makes employers love volunteers so much?

It helps you create a positive impression in any interview!

Broadly it will make you appear more innovative, creative and gives you a range of useful skills. Not only that but there will be an immediate impression created that if you are a volunteer you are a greater team player, inevitably an all round nicer person for having done something for nothing in a world where this is increasingly rare.

It’s not just us that believe this, recruiters do too!

In a competitive job market, prospective employers want to see what makes you different from all the other candidates, and volunteering is a great way of standing out from the crowd. By demonstrating that you take part in meaningful activities in your spare time, you will show an employer that you are a well-rounded person with some interesting life experience.

Kate Edwards, Volunteer Services Manager, The Abbeyfield Society

5. Making A Real Difference

Volunteering, in whatever form, gives you the chance to vote every day about the kind of community and world you want to live in.

If you, like me, think that that is something that is particularly important in a country, a continent, a world and, ultimately, a species that seems to be pulling itself apart discussing how much we should give and to whom.

It gives you the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than yourself and to do something for the greater good.

There is a lot of antipathy and hatred in the world at the moment and whilst there is very little we can do as individuals to combat that there is much we can all do on a more individual and local scale.

Without people who are willing to sacrifice their time and skills to meaningful causes, a lot more people and animals would be worse off.

This is one of my favourite quotes of all time

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Not sure where to start in your volunteering journey?

Your reason for volunteering should begin where your passions lie, be led from a place of talent and intention.

That way all the hard work to come will be worth it. You will naturally be more committed to the cause and as a result, your impact will be that much bigger!

And if you want to get some ideas on the kind of thing you can do you should definitely visit http://www.do-it.org. Enjoy 🙂

 

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