Volunteering: 6 reasons why you should give your time
Giving your time through volunteering is a great way to make a positive impact on your community. One of the benefits of Leadership Giving membership is the ability to join others for volunteer opportunities hosted at United Way supported agencies. Here are six ways that volunteering your time can help develop you as a leader for change.
1. Build your professional network
Attending a networking event is a great way to meet other professionals but volunteering together creates a bond over philanthropy and shared goals.
“I was able to connect with [other Leadership Givers] more personally through a volunteer event,” said Anita Hansen, who recently attended a Leadership Giving volunteer event at LifeWise STL. “It’s much more casual. It’s much more informal and you’re able to have a more in-depth conversation.”
Conversation is easier when you’re both working toward a common goal to help the community.
2. Develop skills you can use to get ahead
Finding a volunteer experience that helps you explore an interest or hobby – like coding or grant writing – can help you sharpen your skills and gain on-the-job experience. Volunteering allows you to try your hand at things you might not otherwise have access to.
And of course, volunteer work is a great way to build your teamwork and leadership skills in a fresh environment.
3. Stand out at your company
Like many other companies, volunteerism and philanthropic participation is a way of life within Anita’s company, Regions Bank,. Associates come together over shared passions and give back to the community they call home. “We want to see St. Louis thrive, and we want to build economic prosperity,” she said.
Volunteering with your coworkers helps you build connections and develop your leadership potential. If your company offers volunteer hours or opportunities, take advantage of the time you receive to give back. You will learn about your community, about trends and issues, about people and about resources. All of which can help you stand out at your company as someone who really cares about their community.
4. Get out of your comfort zone
Volunteering can force you to step outside of your comfort zone, especially if you’re doing new tasks or in an unfamiliar environment. Getting out of your comfort zone shows you can rise to a challenge and persevere.
5. Know you’re doing good in the community
“When you see where your donation goes, and you know somebody who doesn’t have a significant income stream or the means to provide for their kids, there’s a heart-touching moment where you feel like you’re making a difference,” said Anita. “It’s not going to some place never to be seen again.”
Volunteering is a powerful way to connect with your community in a whole new way. At the end of the day, Anita said it felt rewarding to have made a difference and provided value to an organization that makes an impact in her community.
6. Build your confidence
Stepping out of your comfort zone, improving your skills and learning something new will help you become a more well-rounded and confident leader in the workplace.
Because of your volunteer experience, you will have a repertoire of skills and knowledge that you might not have had otherwise. You’re more confident in your decision-making and don’t rely solely on work experience to build up your resume and personal brand.
Take action now:
Sign up for the next Leadership Giving volunteer outing.
Serve your community as a volunteer financial coach.
Find other volunteer opportunities through the Volunteer Center.
Andrea Weed is the marketing and events manager for United Way of Greater St. Louis.