Volunteering Develops Your Character – Here’s Why

Mark Horoszowski

Mark Horoszowski is the co-founder and CEO of MovingWorlds.org.

character day banner photo

The Character Day movement took the world by storm – did you see it? On this day, hundreds of thousands of people from 125 countries watched this captivating short film about character traits, and then had deep guided discussions about how to develop character.

The conclusion?
First: You can improve your character… If you want.
Second: People believe that if we improve our character, we’ll improve our world.

[For more customized support using your talents to improve our world, apply to the MovingWorlds Institute Global Fellowship program.]

How does volunteering help you develop your character?

24 Character strengthsTake a look at this “Periodic Table of Character Strengths” shared by the Character Day team. It has 24 character traits that have been identified by lead psychologists, and puts these traits in 6 categories that influence your overall character:

  1. Wisdom
  2. Courage
  3. Humanity
  4. Justice
  5. Temperance
  6. Transcendence

In short, the right volunteering experience will force you to work in a new environment and with different people that enables you to develop new skills and learn by doing. And if you take the time to reflect on your experience after, it will truly help you grow.

Here are ways that volunteering will help you develop your character traits.

1. Volunteering helps you develop wisdom

By connecting you to more experiences, it will help you develop unique perspectives. Typically, volunteer projects are with resource-strapped organizations that harness creativity to do more, and you’ll learn how to be more creative by spending time with them.

2. Volunteering can help you build confidence and courage

A really unique thing about volunteering, as opposed to just another work project, is that you will build confidence by virtue of making an impact in a new and challenging setting.

3. Volunteering builds empathy and connects you to humanity

Research shows that those that volunteer feel more loved and feel happier. By spending time with other people you will experience these same feelings, and feel compassion and kindness that so many volunteers exhibit.

4. Volunteering helps spread justice

So this is an interesting character trait, but the sub-categories of it tie to teamwork, fairness, and leadership – all of which are skills that people develop while volunteering. Also, by virtue of working on social causes you will learn more about social responsibility initiatives, and your ability to impact them.

5. Volunteering improves your temperance

Temperance literally means self-restraint, and by volunteering, you will become more humble and prudent, which are core traits to this character quality. We talk about humility a lot at MovingWorlds as it is the cornerstone of the successful volunteering engagement.

6. Volunteering can even help you transcend

This is my favorite trait. Transcendence means so many different things to so many different people, but the traits that categorize it are gratitude, optimism, humor, and appreciation of beauty. By working on social and environmental causes in new places, you’ll see things from new perspectives, gain optimism for humankind, and feel more gratitude in the process.

Beyond developing your character, here are 5 other research-backed benefits of volunteering that we published in Forbes.

Ready to take action? Make a real impact with your skills – while accelerating your social good career in the process – by applying to join our MovingWorlds Institute Global Fellowship!