The word 'volunteering' is thrown around a lot as something that is time-consuming and oftentimes boring. We want you to know that you don't need to go far to make a difference. If you're looking for a good reason to do good, we'll give you several!
What is volunteering, actually?
If we’re going to give you the volunteering handbook, we better start from the beginning. What in the world does volunteering even mean? According to the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports, volunteering is “work done in any organized context (…) without obligation and without pay for other people or the community.” This also means that volunteering should not be seen as an alternative to paid work, but rather as a complimentary feature that should be optional.
Volunteering can be:
- Helping someone at the supermarket
- Offering to teach someone a new skill
- Picking up trash on the street
- Carrying someone’s heavy bags for them
If you do good in general, you might already be a volunteer without even knowing it.
Well, a whole lot of people. Just in the Netherlands, almost half of the country does it at least once a year. And the volunteers’ ages are pretty well distributed, meaning that the younger and the older seem to be equally involved.
So let’s start breaking our first stereotype: volunteering is NOT something unusual, out of the ordinary. And so it happens that if you’ve helped someone this year, out of free will and without pay, guess what? You’ve volunteered!
The problem is that people think volunteering looks like this:
When volunteering actually looks like this:
And for the record, the first photo isn’t of real volunteers. All the others are.
Finally, why volunteer?
Besides the more obvious reasons to volunteer – helping someone in need or a particular cause – donating your time to something you care about goes way beyond the one-off deed. What you provide to your community by volunteering is priceless, but so are the benefits to you. Here are some of them:
1. Your health
If you’re looking for better quality of life, consider the impact volunteering could have on your health. An improve in physical health has been attributed to volunteering, including life expectancy and reduced risk of heart disease. Additionally, volunteering can positively impact your emotional and social wellness, as it mostly involves activities around other people.
2. Your career
There are two main ways in which volunteering can be beneficial to your professional life. The first one is gaining experience through skilled volunteering, or volunteering your time and skills to something within your field. The second way it can contribute to your career is corporate volunteering, which simply means volunteering through your company. Keep in mind these can be done interchangeably!
-READ WHY CORPORATE VOLUNTEERING MATTERS-
3. Your society
Volunteering is one of the best ways to contribute to your city’s social sector. It allows you to engage your society, promote solidarity, contribute to inclusion, besides actually improving the lives of those within your community.
If you are a strong believer in the power of collective good, this is going to be your best reason to volunteer. The largest contribution to charities in the Netherlands comes from households as opposed to businesses or foundations. In 2013 alone, nearly €2 billion were contributed to charities only by households, 45 per cent of all donations that year.
4. Your Personal fulfillment & social life
Volunteering is one of the best ways to build a good network and make friends, especially if your good deeds are cause-based. This is a chance to create a circle of people who care about the same issues as you and are actively trying to solve them. Volunteers also get meaningful leisure time and a sense of social consciousness. It can be an effective way to reduce feelings of loneliness and depression.
Excuses are so 2010.
Excuses are the biggest threat to volunteering. And trust us when we say we’ve heard them all.
“I don’t know where to start”
It is fair to say that some people don’t have the resources to do good, and even if they are out there, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of information online. For instance, in Amsterdam, nearly 300 opportunities to volunteer around ‘community and family’ await response. That’s just one cause in one of the cities Deedmob serves. So, to get that first excuse out of the way, you can start here.
“I don’t have time”
Probably the all-time most used justification to get out of – let's be honest – anything. The problem of applying this to volunteering is that there is always time to do good when you make it a priority. It’s always an option to give up your seat on the bus to an older person or someone in need. As we’ve said, volunteering isn’t always a planned activity with a set date. Sometimes it just happens!
-READ MEET THE MODERN VOLUNTEER-
“One person alone won’t change the world”
Read section “Your Society” again.
We hope that the “why volunteer?” question was answered by now, but if you’re still unsure where to begin looking, start by thinking of habits you can change around your every-day life to do good, better! After a few voluntary acts of kindness, we assure you that doing good to your community will become a daily practice.
Do good better with Deedmob - discover deeds around you here!