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The Benefits of Volunteering

In today’s busy environment, it can be hard to find time to volunteer. However, did you know the benefits of volunteering are enormous, both to you and your community? The right match can help you find friends, reach out to the community, learn new skills and even advance your career.

Read on for some of the benefits…

Increase Self-Confidence and Promote Good Health

Volunteering can provide a healthy boost to your self-confidence, self-esteem and life satisfaction. You are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment. Your role as a volunteer can also give you a sense of pride and identity. The better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view on life and your future. Volunteering combats depression and helps you stay physically healthy.  Volunteering keeps you in regular contact with others and helps you develop a solid support system. Studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not.  Volunteering has also been shown to lessen symptoms of chronic pain and heart disease.

Connect–Make New Friend and Contacts

One of the ways to make new friends and strengthen existing relationships is to commit to a shared activity together. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, especially if you are new to an area. Volunteering also strengthens your ties to the community and broadens your support network, exposing you to people with common interests and fun, fulfilling activities. While some people are naturally outgoing, others are shy and have a hard time meeting new people. Volunteering give you the opportunity to practice and develop your social skills, since you are meeting regularly with a group of people with common interests.

Develop a New Skill or Stretch and Define an Existing One More Fully

Volunteering is the perfect vehicle to discover something you are really good at and develop a new skill. There is no reason why you should stop adding to your knowledge just because you are currently employed, or have finished your basic education. There is always something new to learn, a skill to refresh that you have not used recently, or a skill to round out that you have only partial developed.  Volunteering is a way to help you work on weak areas of your resume. As an example, supervising and training other volunteers helps to develop your leadership and coaching skills in a way you might not otherwise be able to do in your existing employment. Work those new experiences into your resume by including your volunteer role and accomplishments.

A very interesting survey carried out a few years back showed that of 200 leading business owners:

73% of employers would recruit a candidate with volunteering experience over one without

94% of employers believed that volunteering can add to skills

94% of employees who volunteered to learn new skills had benefits either by getting their first job, improving their salary, or being promoted

Gain Motivation and a Sense of Achievement–Reach New Potential

Volunteers predominantly express a sense of achievement and motivation. Volunteering is about giving your time, energy and skills freely. As a volunteer, you have made a decision to help on your own accord, and as such can take full responsibility for those accomplishments. It may be true that no one person can solve all the world’s problems, but what you can do is make that little corner of the world where you live just a little bit better for others. 

Sometimes we do get locked into doing the same things over and over and volunteering can give that escape to everyday routine and create a balance in our lives. This energy and sense of fulfillment can carry over to a work situation, and sometimes help to relieve tensions and foster new perspectives towards old situations. A volunteer experience can lead you to something you never even thought about, or can help you discover an interest that you were unaware of. You can strengthen your personal/professional mission and vision by exploring opportunities and expanding your horizons. 

People seek meaning in their work and do not have to know how to do something to get started doing it. You learned to walk, ride a bike, and catch a ball without instructions, didn’t you? We are often limited by the size of our vision and by self-limiting belief about ourselves. The greatest barrier is the inability to give up what we have always done before. It is uncomfortable to change, we might be seen as lacking, and we might fail… Real performance means going beyond what is expected; it is setting one’s own highest standards, and invariably this means standards that surpass what others demand or expect.  It is an expression of one’s potential.   This goes way beyond what others expect and it is important, has meaning, and makes you feel good to achieve it. So, make a plan for yourself:

  1. What are you going to do?
  2. When are you going to do it?
  3. Will this action meet your goal?
  4. What obstacles might you meet along the way?
  5. What support do you need?

Be Part of Your PMI Community

We sometimes take for granted our PMI community. We depend on the networking with peers, the educational benefits–but what if this was not available to us?  The community we have built is dependent upon volunteers. Project professionals and our PMI community mutually depend on each other.  We seek out PMI networking with opportunities with peers when we need help with a difficult project or need to look for new job opportunities.  In turn, PMI Southern Maryland Chapter needs your input, generosity and time to promote and sustain the organization. Volunteering is ultimately about helping others and having an impact on people’s well-being.  What better way is there to connect with your PMI community and give a little back? As a volunteer, you certainly return to the PMI community some of the benefits that were given to you at one time or another.  

Whether you build an action plan, or staff the registration desk for an event, you will experience the situation through hands-on involvement. You can see the direct impact of your actions; making people feel comfortable, welcomed and a part of the PMI Southern Maryland community through volunteering. Networking is an exciting benefit of volunteering, and you can never tell who you will meet, what new information you will learn, or what impact this could have on your life.

Gain Exposure and Recognition within the PMI Community

There are numerous volunteer opportunities available. The key is to find a position that you would enjoy and are capable of doing. It’s also important to make sure that your commitment matches the Chapter’s need. The following questions can help you narrow your options down:

  1. Are you better behind the scenes or do you prefer to take a more visible role?
  2. How much time are you willing to commit?
  3. How much responsibility are you ready to take on?
  4. What skills can you bring to a volunteer job?
  5. What causes are important to you?

You are volunteering your valuable time, so it’s important that you enjoy and benefit from your experience. It is important to make sure that your position is a good fit, and to communicate with the people you’re working with in the Chapter.  If you have questions, be sure to ask them.  Make sure you know what’s expected, and don’t be afraid to make a change if it isn’t what you expected. And most importantly, you must enjoy yourself!