5 Reasons to Volunteer
Volunteering is a popular term and the reasons to volunteer can vary, but I guess we all know someone who came back from a volunteer trip with amazing stories. You can volunteer in different areas from community-based projects (teaching, healthcare) to more environmental projects. There are various reasons for volunteering, whether it’s inspiring yourself, helping others or follow your beliefs, you just have to find the reason(s) which feel(s) right for you. This article is a more general article and aims to inspire you and help you find why you should volunteer and give you some tips.
Do you feel like you are too much on your laptop or on your phone? (ironically you are probably reading this on one of those media) Leaving your world of safety and challenge yourself is a great way to discover more about who you are. One of the reasons to do so is finding or discovering something you are passionate about. Volunteering can help you find your passion. Another reason to volunteer is to spend some of your quality time away from your busy lifestyle. The combination of finding some rest and give back some of your valuable time to a project you believe in can be a good way of recharging your batteries and contribute to some issues you care about.
Maybe one of the most important reasons is that is actually proven it’s good for your health, although it’s more about the feeling. It doesn’t matter if you are contributing to a project abroad, or volunteering for a local charity helping homeless people. Volunteering isn’t all about yourself, it’s about giving back some value to the community with the ability to discover yourself and get the opportunity to gain a whole new perspective, which will be indicated in some of the next reasons to volunteer.
Make a difference
Another reason to volunteer is to make a difference and get to connect with the real world and learn about those issues on the ground. A lot of charities are working on a very small budget and are usually relying on income from volunteer programs. With your volunteering holiday, you will gain experience, learn about other projects, and you will be able to make a difference locally. Your contribution is highly valued and in most projects, you really feel like you can make the difference.
Make amazing friends
In my opinion, it’s one of the most important reasons to volunteer. So, it’s definitely something to consider and check upfront how many volunteers will be around. This volunteer community brings in people from different backgrounds and ages, making it a great mixture. But they all have at least one common interest, the motivation to make a difference and the passion for the project. This is usually a very good baseline for a great time during the volunteer program and a key for long-lasting friendships. You will become part of a community of like-minded people, and most definitely have some great experiences and inspiring conversations with them.
Be part of a team – Develop new skills
Besides having a great time, volunteering can be a great way to learn new skills. Usually, it’s a very pleasant environment with like-minded people. A great place to learn from each other and gain confidence and self-esteem. Volunteering can boost your resume, not only by having extra skills, but also be showing your passion and work as part of a team.
Usually, you will find people with different backgrounds and different skills. Also for the more experienced people, volunteering can be rewarding. It gives you the ability to use your own skills in a different framework and contribute to the program. Having some motivated people around you might give you that little extra to show and teach them your skills they are so grateful to learn.
Explore & See the world differently
Whether it’s a local project are a volunteer program you subscribed to, it will expand your horizon. You will get out of your house and explore a new field, meet new people. Although joining a volunteer program abroad might strengthen your level of empathy and learn about other cultures. Volunteering abroad chances your view of the world, as you come into contact with people from different countries and backgrounds. It will open your mind and I’m sure your perspective on what’s really important will change. Most of this volunteer programs also strive towards a responsible policy, both towards the environment and towards local communities. It might bring you value about responsible travelling, an important issue in this era of being able to travel almost everywhere.
To wrap up: Make sure you get this great experience!
The cautious reader already figured out all these reasons to volunteer are all interacting with each other, and each one has the ability to strengthen the other reasons. Once you decided to volunteer, your biggest step is done, but what’s next.
There are a lot of different volunteering options, most of them are more a ‘volunteering holiday’, where you have to pay for this opportunity. At first side, this seems silly, and it kind of is. But on the other hand, some of these projects can only take place with the help (both money and being there to ‘work’). If you are lucky, you might find some real volunteer opportunities or opportunities which actually might make you a little bit of money. These positions are very scarce though, definitely in wildlife conservation.
I hope you got to this website and article because you care about the environment and the wildlife. If that’s the case, researching your opportunities is important and often necessary. Some of these ‘volunteer holidays’ are quite expensive, and not all of these projects have a good reputation in contributing to conservation. As you don’t want to support the wrong projects, a bit of advice is to do your research online, there are a lot of review websites and what not, but also don’t take everything for granted what you read online.
Make sure to check this list from the Facebook group Volunteers in Africa Beware:
Here a start of ideas on how to find great projects:
- Project reviews: project aims, reports available, working on topics you highly value (helping local communities, environment, …)
- What kind of participants: background needed, international, age, …
- If you are on a tight budget (and still studying), look for grant opportunities or/and simply ask for a discount.
- if you are stuck: get in contact and I can try to give you more advice