Volunteering is one the most common ways of civic participation and the benefits for both the volunteers and the society are colossal. Volunteering means giving willingly away your time and services without profit purposes but mainly for contributing to a better cause. Volunteering is highly important for communities and has been part of the social responsibility culture for years. It is also essential for NGOs to survive and complete their missions.
Why you should consider volunteering?
If you were thinking for a long time how to give back to society, then volunteering is a good way to do so. The benefits of volunteering can vary, and sometimes are not even obvious.
- Contributing to society: The most immediate benefit and most obvious is contributing to society and bettering the world by donating your time.
- Expanding your network: Volunteering is a great way to expand your network, meet new people and make new friends. Especially if you feel like it is hard for you to socialize or meet new people, volunteering can give you the opportunity to enhance your social skills and be part of a family that share the same cause with you.
- Enhancing your CV: Besides learning new skills, volunteering works as job experience in your cv and is very respected my hiring managers. Even if it doesn’t land you a job it will definitely enhance your professional profile.
- Having new experiences: The most important part of volunteering is having fun and have as many new experiences as you can.
- Feeling a sense of fulfilment: It is scientifical proved that volunteering gives you a sense of fulfilment and according to study Volunteering is related to both mental and physical health- as little as an average of 3 hours of volunteering per month—is related to better health outcomes. Therefore volunteering is actually good for your health.[ref]
How to find an NGO to volunteer
Finding the right organization to volunteer can be quite challenging, especially for someone that has no previous experience in volunteering. We have broken down the steps you need to take to find the right organization and enjoy your experience.
- Research, research, research
The most important part before choosing an organization is to do some serious research on what cause you want to advocate for and map which NGOs are working with it. Additionally, you should ask some questions yourself. Is it a role you are interested in? Do you want to have an active role or work behind the scenes, and how much time are you willing to give?
- Know your mission
From the beginning of your volunteering work, you should be aware what is the mission of the organization and what are your expectations for this project.
- Speak up
No matter what the organization is, you should always be able to speak up in case you are not satisfied with your work or you have any doubts.
- Make the most out of it
The point of volunteering besides offering you time to society, is to have fun and enjoy your experience. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, participate in events and expand your network.
Get an overview of NGOs in the UK you could volunteer for.
When should you stop volunteering?
Volunteering is a lifelong engagement, but many times you need to step back and evaluate if the volunteering work you have chosen aligns with your expectations and the cause you are advocating for. There are many things to consider when you are thinking of dropping out of your volunteering position. First of all, volunteering should be respected as it is your precious time devoted to a cause or an organization and the organization should be able to understand the value volunteer voices can bring, and how to include these individuals in a meaningful way.[ref] Another thing to consider, is if the organization itself is devoted to its mission and creating an impact. So if you feel like your work is meaningless or has no impact on the society, then it´s time to move on to a different role or organization.
Volunteering vs job positions in an NGO
Volunteering and working for an NGO are two different things and in order for someone to choose if they want to work or volunteer in an organization, they need to define if they actually want to dedicate their career to a specific cause or just volunteer their free time. The difference between volunteering and working is if you work full time you need to have some practical skills or an education related to a position, while when you volunteer you only need goodwill and passion. The best way to find out if you want to work in an NGO is to actually start as a volunteer and then you can get an idea of the organization and how your skills could fit in a full-time position.
Do you wish to donate? See how you can donate to NGOs.
Written by Eleni Adamopoulou
- Lum, Terry Y., and Elizabeth Lightfoot. “The Effects of Volunteering on the Physical and Mental Health of Older People.” Research on Aging 27, no. 1 (2005): 31–55. https://doi.org/10.1177/0164027504271349