The Importance of Volunteerism

Volunteering is an activity that hundreds of thousands of people take part in every day. The importance of volunteerism is widely understood by many, although some have yet to hop on the bandwagon.

You may be wondering if volunteering is the right choice for you, and you may be asking yourself questions like, why is it important, and how can my contribution make a difference in such a big world?

By discussing the importance of volunteerism, we are able to open up a world of giving, sacrifice, and love to those around us.

What is Volunteering?

Volunteering is often looked at as an act of selflessness because it involves participating in an activity where you are not paid or reimbursed for your services. Unlike an employee, a volunteer willingly offers their time and service in exchange for nothing.

This service can be to an organization (usually nonprofit), or it can be for someone you know. You may have local entities in your community who regularly take volunteers, or you might be the first one to ask if they need help.

The point of volunteering is that you don’t expect anything as a reward or payment for any of the services or aid you provide. There is no compensation, and that’s a very important thing for some people and organizations who need help.

Why is Volunteering Important?

We live in a world today that has a lot of needs and not enough resources to fill them. Between work, family, hobbies, and other obligations, it seems like there’s never enough time to get the important things taken care of.

In addition, money is always a root problem blocking our way to solving the world’s many issues. People want to get paid for their services, but organizations can’t afford to do so. Supplies and equipment also cost money, but they always seem to be out of reach.

In step the volunteers of the community, the city, the world.

Volunteers help individuals, communities, and organizations accomplish things that they otherwise couldn’t. Volunteers are the reason that some cancer patients are able to afford treatment. They are the reason that beaches get cleaned, and sheltered animals receive love and care. They bring food, they clean, they cook, and they offer healthcare.

In their selfless acts and services, volunteers bring essential assistance to various causes that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.

Think about the things that happen around you that wouldn’t be possible without volunteers:

On Thanksgiving Day, there are volunteers who help set up soup kitchens around the United States. They bring and cook food, they provide kitchen utensils and tools, they set up tables, chairs, and place settings, and they give up their free time on a holiday to serve.

Without these volunteers, the streets would be scattered with homeless folks with nowhere to go on Thanksgiving.

Think about your local after school clubs where kids can go and play sports, do homework, or just hang out in a safe place until their parents are home from work. Many of the adults who supervise and work with these kids are volunteers. They are taking care of our children without a paycheck.

Without these volunteers, those kids would be home alone at a young age, roaming the streets, and possibly getting into trouble with no one to steer them in the right direction.

Even things like successful political campaigns take volunteers. These individuals set up rallies, make hundreds and hundreds of phone calls and organize events. While many of them do so to improve their resume and guide them towards a career in politics, they still aren’t getting paid.

Without these volunteers, campaigns would cost even more money than they already do, and they might not be as successful for politicians as they are.

The above statements are just a few examples of how volunteers can have an impact. Even if you simply volunteer to shovel your elderly neighbor’s walk every time it snows, you are impacting the life of one person – and that’s one more than was impacted before you showed up.

Volunteers are super important to one, ten, one hundred, one thousand people; everyone counts on a volunteer at some point in their life. There would be a major gap in our world without them.

What Are Some Benefits to Volunteering?

If there’s no money in it for us, then why should we even bother to participate? It’s no secret that money is a crucial part of life, but we can definitively say that it’s not the only important reward we can obtain.

In fact, though we can say the true definition of volunteering is doing something for nothing in return, we do actually get some things out of it when we participate.

Improved Social Skills

Volunteering can help you improve your social skills. If you’re someone who is looking to expand your social circle or branch out and improve your people skills, then volunteering is a great option.

Some people join clubs or play sports to make new friends, but if there isn’t anything available to you that sparks your interest, then you should definitely give volunteering a shot.

When you volunteer for an organization that you are passionate about, there’s a good chance you will be working side by side with individuals who share that same passion. There’s an instant connection between you and these people because you already have something major in common – and something to talk about.

Situations like volunteering take the pressure off making friends and conversations, mainly because you’re there to complete a specific task. There probably won’t be a whole lot of sitting around, mingling, and small talk, and everyone will get right to the job they came to do.

Because of this, there’s little pressure to engage with others, and you can let the conversation and connections happen naturally. Nothing is worse than being forced to be social, so volunteering is perfect for shy individuals who still long for personal connection.

At the end of the day, you and the people around you can look at one another and smile, knowing that you have all accomplished something to make a difference within an area that you all share in common: something that you believe in. There’s no better connection than that!


Volunteering is also known to make people generally happier. It is good for your mind, body, and soul and delivers benefits that not only impact your mental and emotional health but your physical health as well.

Many people find that volunteering is an excellent way to relieve stress and mitigate negative feelings like anxiety or anger. When you volunteer for something important and meaningful to you, it relieves you of life’s stresses.

This can be for different reasons; some people might be able to recognize that by helping the less fortunate, their life isn’t as hard and stressful as they make it out to be. Someone else might realize that the thing they were so angry about seems small compared to the real issues in the world.

On a more obvious level, if you’re volunteering at the zoo or a shelter where you get to work with animals, you may feel an instant reduction of stress and anxiety just by petting a dog or holding a little kitten.

Volunteering is also a great natural medicine for depression. Often times, depression can cause an individual to become anti-social, feeling the strong desire to stay inside by themselves and do nothing all day. Volunteering is the perfect excuse to get you out of bed and enforce human contact, which can be great for depression. Consistent volunteering with the same group might also lead to a stronger bond, giving someone who’s alone people to rely upon.

The act of giving and doing something selfless for others just makes us feel good. In fact, research measuring brain activity and hormones even show that helping someone else provides large amounts of pleasure. The more we can give, the happier we are likely to be.

Finally, volunteering helps boost our sense of purpose and our self-confidence. When we do good for others, we feel accomplished. This leads to positive pride and can help us discover who we truly are in our heart of hearts.

When we feel good about what we do, we feel good about ourselves. And when we feel good about ourselves, we take on a more positive view of our life and the road ahead. We can find new meaning and a sense of direction when we volunteer, adding stimulation and vigor to our lives.

Further Your Career

An excellent way to gain experience without a job is to volunteer. Lots of people use volunteering as a solution to the dreaded question of “how much experience do you have” during an interview.

In today’s world, every job offer wants you to have a certain number of years of experience related to the field in which you are applying. This can be especially tough for someone who is just starting out or who is trying to switch careers.

Organizations will take anyone as a volunteer, so you can look for ones that pique your interest and work for them as a volunteer to get a little extra experience under your belt.

Every once in a while, an organization might value a volunteer so much that they hire them on as a paid position. It’s rare, but you never know.

Volunteering is such a productive way for young people to spend their time as well. Teens who volunteer after school not only stay out of trouble, but they learn valuable job and life skills along the way.

Yes, they are learning to care for someone other than themselves, which is a trait that not a lot of teenagers have fine-tuned yet. However, they also learn about responsibility, organization, scheduling, and communication.

Lots of volunteer work involves some sort of on-the-job training. A young man volunteering at an animal shelter will probably gain extensive knowledge of pet care, cleanliness, food regimes, and medication administration. Likewise, someone volunteering for a crisis hotline will become an expert on crisis intervention and counseling.

Given the latter two examples, it’s also safe to say that a young person who volunteers might discover their passion in life. During high school and even college, it can be difficult to figure out what direction you’d like to go as far as your career is concerned. When you volunteer, you might spend time learning about something you grow to love and can turn into a profession.

Take the young man who volunteers at an animal shelter: he might just decide to follow his newfound love of animals to become a veterinarian or work for an animal’s rights organization.

Volunteering is Fun

If for no other reason, you can volunteer simply because it’s fun and you enjoy it. Perhaps you’re a happy person who already has tons of friends, a strong sense of purpose, and your dream career. You might volunteer just for the fun of it, and that’s okay too.

Some people find joy in exercising, and others find it in a good book. You find it trying new activities and helping others. You like to get involved and be a part of something bigger. You like to have fun!

Volunteering tends to have a bit of a dark connotation to it sometimes. When people think of volunteering, they often picture homeless shelters, women’s homes, and sick children in hospitals.

But being a volunteer doesn’t always mean you’re going to be stuck in a depressing place surrounded by sad stories. It can look like a sunny day cleaning up a run-down baseball field or helping to organize a color run. It can be a nice spring afternoon planting flowers in the local park or taking cute puppies out for walks at the shelter.

Volunteering touches so many areas of life and can be so fun to be apart of. And the best part is, even if your first and foremost reason for volunteering is for fun, you’re still helping out at the end of the day.

What Kind of Volunteering Can I Participate In?

So, after considering the importance, impact, and benefits of volunteering, you have decided to take the leap and try it out for yourself. But where do you start? What kind of volunteering is available to you, and which should you choose?

Let’s talk a little bit about getting started and what your options are when it comes to volunteering.

Consider Your Interests

The best way to make the most of your volunteering is to choose something that you are passionate about. Volunteering of any kind is a good thing, and it will probably make you feel good regardless of what it is at the end of the day, but your best work happens when you’re invested and interested in what you’re doing.

With that in mind, your first step is to think about what your interests are. Make a list in your head, on a piece of paper, on your phone – whatever it takes to get your brain going. Keep it simple, and think about all the things you really enjoy. Here are some examples:

  • Art
  • Music
  • Sports
  • Children
  • Making Friends
  • Learning
  • Teaching
  • The Outdoors

You may not realize it yet, but just from a simple list like the one above, you can find the perfect place to volunteer. Even if you can only come up with one thing that you really love, you can find something to do with it.

Let’s take the great outdoors, for example. You might really enjoy being outside. Perhaps it doesn’t even matter what the activity is; if you get to be outside on a sunny day, then you’re there.

There is so much that you can do with that, so we’re going to take this example to the next step.

Research Organizations & Opportunities

Once you know what you are interested in, it’s time to take to the internet and research volunteer opportunities near you. Organizations that use volunteers are always looking for them, so it shouldn’t be too hard to search and find out where you can help out.

Because you already wrote down what you are interested in, it should be pretty easy to weed out the options that just aren’t for you. For example, if we’re sticking to the love of the outdoors, then volunteering in a shelter or a soup kitchen probably isn’t the best bet for you.

However, things like gardening at local parks, serving as a tour guide for zoos, and cleaning up national parks might be perfect for you. Outdoor volunteers get to do things like transport guests, host campsites, work to beautify trails, and serve as experts to help guests around the area.

Make sure to check for any kind of qualifications that an organization might require. For example, someone leading hiking tours should be in good physical shape, while someone serving as an outdoor education should probably have some level of knowledge concerning nature.

Some opportunities may also provide training, meaning you don’t need any prior experience to participate. Others may only be available on certain days, so it’s important that you check that your schedule aligns before committing.

You may also be interested in the organization itself and its mission statement and background before committing to serving with them. Some people looking to volunteer prefer to work with nonprofits, or maybe you want to work for a religious organization. A little bit of research will give you these answers in no time.

Other Options

Whether you have a set of standards you’re looking to match, or you just want to help an organization in need, there are tons of volunteer opportunities that you can choose from. Take a look at some of these areas that are always looking for some extra hands.

Rescue Shelters

Perhaps one of the most popular areas of volunteering has to do with cute, furry little creatures. People who love animals are perfect for volunteering at animal rescue shelters. These shelters are always busy, always populated, and could always use a couple of hands-on-deck to help out with various activities.

Not only do these animals need a lot of love and care, but the facilities themselves are often short-handed when it comes to administrative assistance. You can volunteer to answer phone calls and emails, help with cleaning, and file paperwork. These seemingly small tasks are what help these organizations function as they do.

Rescue shelters are the best choice for a young person deciding whether they’d like to go into school to study as a veterinarian or an older individual looking for some companionship.

National Parks

We already discussed outdoor volunteering a little bit, but we’d just like to emphasize the importance of volunteering for a national park. The United States has tons of national parks from coast to coast, and they don’t maintain themselves.

While there are park rangers and other professionals hired to help out guests and keep the park looking beautiful, volunteers play a large role in these activities as well.

Someone who loves being outside and advocates for protecting nature would do well as a volunteer in one of these locations. You can volunteer to do something as small as picking up trash to larger tasks like guiding tourists and maintaining popular sites.

Other volunteers like to work in the fundraising portion of national park work, which still more can help set up and run events.

Habitat for Humanity

Almost everyone has heard of Habitat for Humanity. This organization is one that takes volunteers to build and repair homes for people. While many people like to help animals and the places that they live, others prefer to go the human route by creating homes for the less fortunate.

This organization touches areas of the world that need the most help when it comes to living situations. They work across more than 70 countries worldwide and service families to create a livable environment.

You don’t have to be a construction professional to help out with Habitat for Humanity, either. A general interest in the subject matter is helpful, and their team members help you learn along the way.

Political Campaigns

Anyone who has any kind of interest in politics can volunteer to work on a political campaign. Every politician uses large numbers of volunteers to make their campaign trail successful. You don’t have to be an expert politician, either. If you know how to use a computer and a telephone, you’re pretty much in.

Volunteers on political campaigns make phone calls to voters, answer emails, fundraise, and distribute campaign materials like flyers and posters.

If you have a passion for politics or just greatly support a particular leader, you can try volunteering on a local campaign to get started. And someday, you may find yourself advocating for the future president of the United States.

Retirement Facilities

Helping the elderly is a very noble thing to do. Not all elderly folks have family to take care of them, and there are many people who outlive their loved ones and friends. It can become a very lonely lifestyle to live out the remainder of your years in a retirement facility, so a compassionate volunteer can make a huge difference in someone’s life.

Volunteering can look like a lot of different things when it comes to retirement homes. You can volunteer simply as a companion: read to an elderly person, play games with them, or just sit and talk over a cup of tea.

Other volunteers can work to host classes and activities, like bingo night and painting classes. Some volunteers come in to help the older ladies wash and style their hair, while others will trim and paint their nails for them.

Even educators can service the elderly by coming in as a guest lecturer or teacher.

There are tons of ways that you can serve a retirement home and its residents, from small and simple to large and complex. Either way, your service will be impactful and well-received.

After-School Programs

Any kind of after-school program is an excellent volunteer opportunity for someone who enjoys working with kids. In many cases, kids don’t have anywhere to go once school lets out for the day. They may come from an underprivileged neighborhood or a family with parents who work jobs late into the night.

For situations like these, it can be extremely difficult for kids to stay safe, keep out of trouble, and even get their homework and studying done.

After-school programs not only provide a safe place for kids to hang out and be productive, but it also fosters an environment where they can make friends, learn how to play team sports, and connect one-on-one with older mentors, like volunteers.

Food Pantries and Soup Kitchens

If you have a heart for the homeless, then food pantries and soup kitchens sound like the right match for you. They’re even better if you enjoy preparing food and cooking delicious meals.

These organizations coordinate food drives, complete fundraising activities, and provide meals for those who can’t afford food on their own.

Soup kitchens are especially popular around holidays when volunteers give their time to serve homeless and less fortunate folks around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

While it’s good to spread the holiday cheer, it’s also important to remember that these people still need help during the other days of the year. You volunteering on an average spring day can change someone’s life for the better, simply by preparing a quick meal or serving some soup.

Leave a Comment