No non-profit organisation can do what it does without the help of a dedicated team of volunteers, as there just are not sufficient funds to pay staff (especially seeing that most funders somehow believe that organisations can function without paying overheads such as rent and salaries). Not only do volunteers help an organisation carry out their mission, but they also bridge the gap between the organisation and the community, help provide better services to beneficiaries, and make available expertise the organisation does not have.
Recent studies estimate that approximately one hundred million individuals volunteer annually. Acts of volunteering are traceable all the way back to medieval times, mainly to aid the poor and sick. It is estimated that there were at least 500 voluntary hospitals in England during the 12th and 13th centuries!
The actual term “to volunteer” was supposedly first used in 1755 in direct connection to “offering oneself for military service”, and is derived from the French volontaire.
“Community service” came to the forefront of people’s minds with a fervent passion domestically in 1914. One could broadly categorize the term “community service” as a powerful bridge between the military and civilian forms of engagement that we are vastly aware of today. Ultimately, it was a way to level the playing field socially.
Some of the earliest volunteer organisations were the YMCA, the Red Cross, the Rotary Club, the Lions Club and the Peace Corps. While these volunteer developments should not be underestimated for their great influence, believe it or not, the most influential player to have brought on the greatest change in the volunteer industry is no other than…the World Wide Web!! Connecting individuals from all around the world, the ability to spread volunteering efforts and causes without being limited by physical boundaries marks the biggest leap in volunteering yet!
5 Benefits of Volunteering For a Non-Profit Organisation
The benefits of working for a non-profit organisation (NPO) can extend to your community, your family, and even into your home if you’re volunteering in your own town. While volunteering is an admirable pursuit, helping others live better lives, it can also help you nurture skills and develop yourself in ways you may not have thought possible.
1. Connecting with other people
The networking opportunities you’ll have from volunteering can help bolster you in other areas of your life. By helping your community better itself, you and your fellow volunteers are recognised as part of the much-needed glue holding the fabric of society together. This will help you to make connections while boosting your social skills and adding contacts to your professional network.
Whether you just want to connect with people, strengthen existing relationships, find like-minded individuals, or make friends, volunteering is the course for you.
2. Create Career Opportunities
It’s not unheard of for a paid position to become available to you after you have made yourself an invaluable member of staff. Reliable manpower can be hard to come by, giving you a foot in the door to potentially make some money. Eventually, if a vacancy is made available, you may even be granted an official position along with a full salary.
3. Enhance your Skills and Abilities
By volunteering in an organisation, you’ll be honing existing skills while learning new ones at the same time. You’ll be exposed to new situations and areas that require a unique train of thought and problem-solving ability. This will not only boost your competency, it will also allow you to identify any personal points that you need to work on. Once you know where your knowledge or aptitude needs work, you can start to do this, developing new skills as you go along.
4. Increase your Marketability
Once you’ve got some experience, you can wow potential employers with your updated CV. Not only are you likely to impress them with your array of skills, experience and social strengths, you’ll also come across as committed and passionate. Volunteering shows you’re willing to work hard toward your goals and that you have a purpose, which is a major strength in the business arena.
5. Try out Career Ideas
If you’re interested in a certain line of work, but aren’t sure that it’s what you want to do for the rest of your life, volunteering is perfect for trying it out. If for instance, you think you would like to become a nurse, you could try working at a nursing home. This will give you an idea as to what your future prospects could be.
Gain all the benefits of volunteering and help change lives for the better while you do so, in any NPO in your area and beyond.