Volunteers donated 7.9 billion hoursof volunteer service worth $184 billion in 2014.
How many of those hours did you contribute? Wish you could contribute more? Not sure how to get started? Or even why?
Why Do People Volunteer?
Most people volunteer out of the goodness of their hearts and to give something back to the community. Others develop new skills and increase experience by volunteering.
Energize, Inc. identifies reasons actual volunteers have given as to why they volunteer: sharing a skill, gaining leadership skills, repaying a debt, learning something new, having an impact, making new friends, and personal experience with the problem, illness, or cause.
Why do you want to volunteer?
How to Volunteer
There are millions of volunteer opportunities—from your local church to a homeless shelter, and from the Humane Society to your local library. Below are some questions to ask before deciding on a volunteer opportunity:
- Which opportunities match your goals and interest?
- Which opportunities match your personality?
- Who or what do you want to work with?
- Do you work better alone or with a team?
- Do you prefer to work behind the scenes or be more visible?
- How much time do you have?
- How much responsibility do you want?
- What skills can you contribute?
- What causes are important to you?
- Community theaters
- Admiral at the Lake community members volunteer to be reading buddies at nearby Goudy Elementary School
- Pet shelters
- Service organizations, such as the Lions Club or Optimists
- Youth organizations and community sports teams
- After-school programs
- Places of worship
- State and national parks
- National organizations such as Red Cross
- High school exchange programs
- Peace Corps
- Environmental organizations
- One-on-one volunteering to help people you know. For example, members of the independent living community make new friends by escorting residents of The Harbors, The Admiral at the Lake’s nearby rehab, assisted living, and skilled nursing building, to events held in the auditorium.
Chicago has many volunteer opportunities specific to its distinctive ambiance:
- Chicago Cares offers 200 varied volunteer opportunities in the Windy City.
- Paws Chicago helps homeless pets.
- One Good Deed Chicago not only offers volunteer opportunities online, it hosts the Chicago Volunteer Expo, which takes place this year February 28.
- The Lakeview Pantry distributes more than 1.6 million pounds of food annually.
- All for Good also has specific opportunities in Chicago.
Benefits of Volunteering
Most people view volunteering as a charitable act. And it is. However, volunteering also benefits the volunteer in the following ways:
- Make new friends and strengthen existing relationships via a shared activity
- Increase social and relationship skills
- Counteract the effects of stress, anger and anxiety
- Combat depression
- Enhance happiness
- Increase self-confidence
- Develop a sense of purpose
- Help with physical and mental health
- Gain career experience
- Learn valuable skills