The Surprising Benefits of Volunteering

Mark Horoszowski

Mark is the Co-founder of MovingWorlds.org, a global platform connecting people who want to volunteer their expertise with social impact organizations.

Aristole quote about service
The power of volunteering has been documented for the last 2,500+ years, however a slew of recent research is shedding even more light onto the surprising benefits of volunteering. Science now proves what great leaders and philosophists have known for years:

“One of the great ironies of life is this: He or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served.” -Gordon Hinckley

Volunteering time makes you feel like you have more time

As published in the Harvard Business Review, researcher Cassie Mogilner explains that those that volunteer their time feel like they have more of it. This is similar to the findings that people who donate to charity feel wealthier. Mogliner explains:

“The results show that giving your time to others can make you feel more ‘time affluent’ and less time-constrained than wasting your time, spending it on yourself, or even getting a windfall of free time.”

Volunteering your skills helps you develop new skills

In addition to on-the-job experience and a master’s degree, skills-based volunteering is second to none in developing skills that can help people get ahead. In fact, skills-based volunteering overseas has been called the next Executive Training Ground. In our experience at MovingWorlds supporting international skills-based volunteering programs for corporations, we have found that skills development in technical and leadership-related skill areas is the primary reason that corporations invest in these programs. There is plenty of research that backs this up, as we recently published in the Devex article, Why Every Company Needs an International Corporate Volunteering Program.  According to a study from George Washington University, researchers found that

“…Beyond ‘stimulating new insights’, international corporate volunteer ‘programs are a better investment than businesses school leadership programs, both in terms of cost and diversity of learning.’ “

Volunteering your body helps you have a healthier body

The fact that volunteering is proven to make you healthier is reason enough to engage in pro bono activities. Its effects are so profound, a study from the NationalService.gov states

“Research demonstrates that volunteering leads to better health… those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.”

For more information, review this previously published article Can Volunteering Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease.

Volunteering your experience helps build your experience

We consistently see highly skilled professionals – like investment bankers, accountants, business consultants, and creatives to name just a few – turn to skills-based volunteering as a way to develop their professional experience. And it works. Just a few examples:

  • For those that want a job in international development, volunteering internationally can prove your commitment and give you the field experience you need.
  • Volunteering in a new industry will give you the knowledge needed to switch jobs.
  • If you want to switch careers into the nonprofit sector, volunteering can help prove your commitment and develop knowledge of the nonprofit sector.

Beyond our own research, the New York Times, Forbes, and Wall Street Journal have all previously published how volunteering can help you earn your next job.

“According to the survey of 202 human-resource executives, skilled volunteer work—such as helping a nonprofit with its finances—makes job applicants look more appealing to hiring manager.” – Wall Street Journal

Here are some tips to add your volunteering experience to your resume and LinkedIn profile.

Volunteering your love makes you feel more love

Admittedly, love is a hard thing to define and measure. But when it comes to volunteering, the results speak for themselves. Volunteering is proven to make you happier. It builds empathy, strengthens social bonds, and makes you smile – all factors that increase the feeling of “love”.

When researchers at the London School of Economics examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness, they found

Helping others kindles happiness, as many studies have demonstrated. When researchers at the London School of Economics examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness in a large group of American adults, they found the more people volunteered, the happier they were”– Simple Changes, Big Rewards: A Practical, Easy Guide for Healthy, Happy Living.

 


 

Realizing the benefits of volunteering for yourself

The benefits of volunteering are truly remarkable and they are easier than ever to discover…

  • Volunteering your time makes you feel like you have more time
  • Volunteering your skills helps you develop more skills
  • Volunteering makes you healthier
  • Volunteering builds you experience and employability
  • Volunteering makes you feel more loved

So how can you get started volunteering? It’s remarkably easy. Post your intentions on Facebook and/or LinkedIn to get connected to an organization in your network. Use LinkedIn’s For Good program, Catchafire, or VolunteerMatch to find local opportunities, or use MovingWorlds.org for international skills-based volunteer projects of any length of time.

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Here are some more great quotes about the benefits of volunteering

Even if the research wasn’t as compelling in 500 BC when Confucius first documented the benefits of service, throughout human history, great leaders and philosophers have urged others into service as a way to find a deeper meaning in life. Here are just a few of our favorites:

“He who wishes to secure the good of others has already secured his own.” – Confucius 

 

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. ” – Martin Luther King Jr. 

 

“Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves.” – Horace Mann

 

“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” – H. Jackson Brown Jr.

 

“Helpful people also tend to be healthier and happier; helping others causes happiness. Be selfless, if only for selfish reasons.” – Gretchen Rubin

 

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” – Rabindranath Tagore

 

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” – Albert Schweitzer

 

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” – Muhammad Ali

 

“The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace, whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom.” – Sun Tzu

 

“Your life and mine should be valued not by what we take… but by what we give.” – Edgar Allen

 

“What is the essence of life? To serve others and to do good.” – Aristotle

 

“You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give.” – Winston Churchill

 

“Only a life lived for others is worth living.” – Albert Einstein

 

Reader Interactions

MOVINGWORLDS.ORG BLOG