Published: 01/19/2024 - 9:00 AM

Volunteering is rewarding and has numerous benefits you'll enjoy. Anyone with extra time on their hands should explore volunteering as an option, especially if they're interested in personal growth and community upliftment. If you're curious about volunteer programs in the Greater Philadelphia area and considering the Y, we are sure you won't regret it.

We'll discuss the reasons for and benefits of volunteering and how your contribution will impact your community.

Reasons for Volunteering

There are different motivations for volunteering. Whether you're keen on meeting new people in a safe environment, want to make a difference in others' lives by engaging in a charitable cause or would like to acquire a new skill, volunteering can fulfill all these aspirations.

Some may argue that volunteering is a time-consuming activity, but it doesn't have to be. The beauty of it is that you can decide which available time slots suit you without feeling pressured. Considering how busy your schedule probably is, you can commit to a time that's suitable for you.

The Importance of Volunteering

Volunteering is important mainly because there is a huge demand for charity work in communities that lack funding. Most nonprofit organizations depend on government and private entity donations to stay afloat. With high operational costs and other necessary expenses, they try to limit extra expenditures like salaries to cover the essentials like food, clothing, medical supplies and running costs. 

Volunteering allows these organizations to continue their charitable work with the broader community's assistance. Although they may not contribute financially, the additional helping hands provide relief and prevent employees from experiencing burnout and fatigue. 

The Impact of Volunteering on Mental Health

Volunteering could help release stress and promote a positive mindset. When you do good and are recognized and appreciated for your efforts and contribution, your mood improves along with your sense of self-worth and purpose. You are more likely to continue doing charitable work to maintain this heightened sense of pride and accomplishment. 

You also impact those you help by improving their mental health and well-being. When they feel a genuine interest and concern from strangers, their self-esteem, self-worth and overall quality of life improve. Feelings of sadness and loneliness are reduced with regular interaction with volunteers. They look forward to social networking and other activities that come with voluntary services. 

Your physical health could also improve since you often engage in sports and other fitness activities — such as lifting or hauling goods — that require effort. 

Personal Benefits of Volunteering

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The personal benefits of volunteering include some of the following:

  • Increased social skills: Whether you enjoy social interaction or are less inclined to meet new people, your social skills will improve through volunteering. Talking to strangers, listening to their individual stories, opening yourself up to vulnerability, and learning to offer advice are all things that will help you deal with others with tact and compassion. These social skills are invaluable.
  • Newly acquired skills: Volunteering exposes you to different skills that will help you broaden your personal scope and capacity. Depending on the nature of the charity, you could learn more about marketing and communication, events planning and organization, and public speaking. These acquired skills can be beneficial in other applications.
  • Improved well-being: Volunteering provides numerous personal benefits associated with your own improved mental welfare. You'll feel better about yourself, gain self-confidence, be happier and feel worthy when you do good for others without being compensated financially. You'll appreciate your own selflessness and the value of putting others first. Holistically, volunteering has a positive impact on your mental, emotional and physical well-being. 
  • Gain valuable insight and understanding: Charity organizations give you firsthand insight into the lives of the less fortunate. You gain a new perspective on life from their point of view. By placing yourself in their shoes, you'll empathize and have a better understanding of their daily struggles, which may help you appreciate your circumstances more. With increased compassion, you'll build stronger relationships with those around you. 

Social and Community Benefits of Volunteering

Volunteering has a massive impact on the community at large. Below are some social and community benefits of volunteering:

  • Instills a sense of community: Everyone has an inherent sense of belonging and being part of a greater community. As a volunteer, you won't only experience an increased sense of community, but those you're involved with will feel the same. This may help form stronger bonds, improve trust and communication, and promote mutual understanding and respect. 
  • Improved community awareness: Like-minded individuals who enjoy volunteering will likely form friendships through regular interaction. Sharing common values like the importance of charity work, helping others and spreading kindness makes it easier to become advocates and spread the message throughout the broader community. Social media platforms are great ways to get the community involved with the help of fellow volunteers.
  • Opportunity to inspire others: Setting an example to others, especially a younger audience, may spur them to volunteer as well. The community may get involved if they consider you a role model. You'll also get better buy-in when you're personally engaged.
  • Match your interests with the relevant program: With numerous community programs available, you can explore areas of interest and expertise. If you enjoy engaging with youth, there are suitable programs that will help you contribute in the most efficient way.

Professional Benefits of Volunteering

You won't only benefit personally or socially through voluntary work, but you can also gain the necessary skills to apply professionally, such as:

  • New opportunities: Being associated with a charity organization may open doors and offer new opportunities. Potential employers who support charity may be impressed by your selflessness and consider you as a candidate with strong moral values, something that's not a requirement but certainly advantageous. 
  • Utilize acquired skills: Listing your newly acquired skills on your resume may help improve your chances of finding a job where you can apply those skills. If you're employed, you could showcase your new skills in your workplace, gain recognition and possibly be rewarded.
  • Likely to take on new challenges: Sometimes volunteering requires stepping out of your comfort zone. You may have to do new things or work on projects you've never done before. This will help you build the confidence to tackle challenges head-on, whether personally or professionally.
  • Potential networking opportunities: The charity organization at large has many divisions you could get involved in. By being actively involved, you become familiar and may be offered opportunities to meet different stakeholders. Networking opens the door to further opportunities within the business that may be in line with your interests. 

Explore Volunteer Opportunities at the Greater Philadelphia YMCA

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If you think volunteering is something you could consider, we encourage you to explore the various volunteer opportunities through the Greater Philadelphia YMCA. If you're interested in fundraising, youth programs or committee volunteering, you'll be placed in an area that highlights your skills and passion. We want you to shine and be happy while impacting others positively. 

If you're as excited as we are to meet and discuss possible opportunities, feel free to contact us online and check our location map if you're not in Philadelphia. You're sure to find a YMCA near you!