12 Reasons to Volunteer Your Time to Your Community


Hillaries Beach

I have volunteered and helped out a good number of professional, sporting and community groups over the years;  up till now I have never really questioned why I do it. I guess it’s just the drive to make a difference.  Now with my 2 year stint as the Treasurer of the Australian Web Industry Association coming to a close maybe it’s time to reflect on why I nominate myself for such things and what the benefits of volunteering for your community are:

  1. Workplace Experience

    You know volunteering can give you a lot of valuable varied workplace experience and in some cases open doors for potential employment or alternative career paths your wouldn’t have otherwise have thought of.

  2. Increase your Network

    Also you get to work with other people outside your usual sphere of contacts, this in turn allows you to expand your network of contacts, locally and around the world.

  3. Personal Satisfaction

    I wouldn’t be honest with myself if I did say that volunteering can be extremely rewarding.  In some cases you can find yourself leading or  involved with projects that you wouldn’t normally ever get the opportunity to do.   On completion, you get an immense feeling of  satisfaction, usually from producing or contributing to something that a lot of people have got a benefit from.  Yeah, it’s a little ego centric. But you do get a buzz –  for example knowing  that you helped get a lot of people to come to an event, in which they all learnt about the latest techniques.   So in a small way you pushed your local community forward.

  4. Pay Your Dues

    You get a real sense of giving something back.   I really can’t explain this, but it’s like a personal justification, well it is for me anyway.   It’s like you have to pay your dues or something like that.  Volunteering to a local not-for-profit, and a professional association in a way for me for fills that requirement.

  5. Build Confidence

    We all have those areas in which we aren’t that confident, if you don’t you’re lying to yourself.   Well, I have found with volunteering you often get to work in situations that can help boost your confidence, all while being supported by the organisation of fellow volunteers around you.

  6. Stay on the Edge

    You get to ensure that your skills and techniques are on the leading edge of your professional community as you are often associating with like people on the top of their professional careers.

  7. Contribute, stare them down.

    No one can look you in the eye at any event or gathering and say “well what have you contributed? Bet it’s nothing, much.”  Bit of ego here. Hell yeah.   But often you have earned it.   This did happen recently to me.   It was interesting to see the look on this person’s face when I told them the number of community groups I was activity involved in.   In this case I think I may have inadvertently  shamed them into rethinking their own contribution to society.

  8. Make a Difference

    This may seem silly, but you really do get to make a difference.  Often the things that you personally do can make a major difference; even if it’s just to spring board ideas for others to take up and move forward with.  Often in professional associations and  not-for-profit the resources and opinions of each volunteer are highly valued.

  9. Grow and be Challenged

    Working with a group of different people, that you wouldn’t otherwise choose to work with can be challenging.  This is frustrating at times, but it’s also fantastic as it makes you learn and grow as a person and not remain just a mindless zombie churning out the 9 to 5. Anything that challenges me is good in my book.

  10. Build Community

    You get to build community and bring people together, especially in some professional communities around Australia that have become fractured over the years.  Not looking at you Melbourne.  The sense of personal achievement with this is just fantastic.

  11. Hone Disused Skills

    Sometimes you have a skill set that just isn’t getting used at work, so why not put it to use with a community or professional association.   Say you are good at marketing, but just don’t get to practice the ground roots marketing anymore as you are now in management driving a balance sheet. Well volunteer for a marketing position with a not-for-profit organisation may help keep those skills from going rustly.

  12. Have Fun

    Finally you know with the hard work comes a lot of fun, good times, laugher, and often a real sense of comradeship, their isn’t any cliqueness that people often speak of.   Just a gratefulness that you are willing to help, and donate your time.

Well that’s my personal list of reasons that I contribute to the my community, be it on a professional or general interest level.   I’m a great believer that what you give to the community it will in turn give back to you three fold.

Volunteering doesn’t take much, sometimes its just a few hours a week, if that, and frankly the benefits outweigh any downsides.

So what are you contributing to your community?

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  1. For the past 8 yrs I have been on at least 1 committee and sometimes 2 (or 3 if you count a “subcommittee”).

    It can be very discouraging when it is always the same faces carrying the bulk of the work. It can also lead to burn out.

    I have thought about this a lot and I see many committees struggle in making their needs known to the wider group that they serve.

    I suspect (but have not tested) that if the wider community was more aware of the goings-on they would be happy to offer help even in smaller capacity that might ease the overall load. The tricky part seems to be communication and making requests in a timely and easily digested manner.

    I am not sure of the answer. Web offers some help for dissemination of information but face to face communication seems to yield better results at getting things done.

    I see my relationship with my professional industry as long term and will throw my hat in for duties when the opportunity arises to step down a level elsewhere.

  2. Totally agree with your roundup. Volunteering, as with any corporate or personal philanthropy, should be a two-way street in which both sides gain. I recently volunteered to build a brand new website for the dogs’ refuge at Shenton Park and I can tick 1 to 12 of your points above.

  3. Ohh nice work Henrik. I looked regularly at the old site when looking to adopt a dog last year. Your new site is great!

  4. Cheers Rosemary. Please spread the word, the dogs are freezing this winter, even if it’s just on a foster basis.

  5. Volunteering can actually be really fun. You get to meet people, learn various things, have adventures and it does feel good to be able to help out and be a useful member of your community. Right now, I volunteer twice a week at a school. I can also say that volunteering breaks the monotony of an otherwise boring week, thus, it helps preserve sanity.

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