5 Ways Volunteering Can Help YOU!

benefits of volunteering Today is International Volunteer Day, when we give a nod to people everywhere who give a little of their spare time to worthy causes. Volunteering encompasses everything from running the sausage sizzle for your kid’s soccer team, to carrying supplies into war torn communities. Volunteers pick up the many jobs that governments simply don’t fund and our lives would be greatly impoverished without them. Without volunteers there’d be no more weekend sports for kids, charities would be stretched beyond their limits, and your favourite museums and galleries would have to close their doors, just to name a few. Volunteering has also been shown to benefit the volunteer, particularly in terms of mental health. There’s a warm glow to be had when you know you’re making a difference, as well as social opportunities and the chance to develop skills you might not find in your workplace.

So, why aren’t we all out there doing a whole lot more volunteering? The biggest barrier to volunteering in Australia is a lack of time; juggling work and family responsibilities can be challenging enough without trying to add extra tasks into the mix! But what if volunteering could actually improve your work/life balance?

Here are 5 ways that volunteering can benefit YOU as well as the community

1. Too busy for quality family time? Why not volunteer as a family? A commitment to volunteering as a family is a commitment to working together as a team and communicating away from distractions. You will be modelling positive behaviour and social awareness lessons that will stick with your kids for life.

2. Always too busy for the gym? Make volunteering part of a bigger commitment to a healthy lifestyle by choosing a program that includes physical activity or life skills (community gardens, sports clubs or rubbish removal).

3. Frustrated at work? Use volunteering as a way to upskill or investigate another industry. Volunteering these days is well regulated (it’s not just about showing up and lending a hand) which means you get the benefit of training courses before you start – and references when you leave. Don’t be afraid to ask the volunteer organisations you want to work with exactly what they can offer you!

4. Struggling with parenting? Use volunteering as an opportunity for strategic education: choose a volunteer program that works with teens, or raises awareness for a particular cause that’s close to your family’s hearts. Volunteering looks great on your CV – and that goes for your kids as well. A child who has been involved in volunteering from a young age will have the edge over a child with nothing but school on their CV when it comes to early part time jobs.

5. Need more time for fun? Did you know that you can sometimes nab free tickets to festivals if you offer to volunteer for a few hours? Or how about hanging at your favourite gallery or public garden for the day, but getting your hands dirty while you’re there? If you tend to spend a little time each day getting all FOMO’d on Facebook, why not put that time to good use? There are many volunteer roles that can be done online, from the comfort of your iPad, in your PJs! The best one I’ve heard about today is to annotate photos of penguins for conservation researchers who are working in the Antarctic. Cool! (literally)

Volunteer opportunities can be found at Do Something Near You, Seek Volunteer, Volunteering Australia and lots of other places!  Get into it.

Are you a volunteer? Hit me with your favourite volunteer role, or suggest an organisation that needs help!



18 comments for “5 Ways Volunteering Can Help YOU!

  1. December 9, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    I have read that older people who volunteer are happier and live longer. An added benefit to a worthy occupation. I will definitely be doing more in 2015 and dragging my husband in as well. It’s about time I got back into it again 🙂

  2. December 8, 2014 at 10:24 am

    Thanks for these tips, Lara. 2015 is the year I’m going to get more involved in volunteer work. Life becomes so much more fulfilling when you give back to your community.

  3. December 6, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    I wish I had known it was volunteer day! Every Friday I run my girls’ playgroup, except for this Friday (volunteer day), as I was stuck at home getting bits and bobs done to the house, so I had to get someone else to “volunteer” on my behalf. It’s not hard to do, but can sometimes be a little onerous if you’re the only one. Best to have a team effort!

    • This Charming Mum
      December 6, 2014 at 9:06 pm

      I organised playgroup for awhile when my girls were younger too. Parenting would just be so much harder without some people stepping up to give time to groups like this. But yes, it can get a little tiresome without a good team!

  4. December 6, 2014 at 9:52 am

    I used to be quite heavily involved in volunteering with families who have adopted kids from China, on their national committee and doing their national newsletter, but I haven’t done anything ongoing for a while, just some sporadic things with dance and fundraisers. I think volunteering as a family sounds like a great plan for 2015, even if its only once a month.

    • This Charming Mum
      December 6, 2014 at 9:08 pm

      I’d really like to find a family opportunity too. I think we’ll throw ourselves into Clean Up Australia this year as a family, but I’ll be looking out for something more regular too. That must have been quite a lot of work doing the newsletter and committee for families, but obviously lovely to work with a cause that’s close to your heart.

  5. December 5, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Volunteering is something that has always been on my to-do list but I have never actually taken the steps to do it. I need to find a cause that really sings to my heart and jump in and start helping. xx Nikki @ Wonderfully Women

    • This Charming Mum
      December 6, 2014 at 9:09 pm

      Yes I think it’s much easier to stick at it, and really give your energy to a cause that’s close to your heart for whatever reason. I hope you find something that works for you!

  6. December 5, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    I did not know it was international volunteer day either. I guess you could say I volunteer for our Playgroup with another Mum. If it weren’t for Mums doing this, there wouldn’t be a wonderful space for our children to play with the great toys every week, nor a place where the mums could come for a bit of a break. Although now that things are getting busier with work and I have limited time withe Elliott when I’m not working, I may have to give it up which is a little disappointing. I’ve always wanted to do meals on wheels though.

    • This Charming Mum
      December 6, 2014 at 9:10 pm

      Volunteering for playgroups, school activities, weekend sports etc is incredibly helpful for kids and parents alike. Meals on Wheels is an amazing service. I noticed a Red Cross one, too, on the ‘Do something near you’ site that’s just giving a phone call each day to an elderly person who’s on their own. Little things can make a really big difference I reckon.

  7. December 5, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    This is great – I am looking forward to my girls being a bit older and I am keen to get them involved as a family to do some volunteering. At the moment, I just get involved in their day care and activities and we give to charity

    • This Charming Mum
      December 6, 2014 at 9:12 pm

      Schools, day care and sports groups would fall apart without parents giving time so good on your for supporting your kids’ activities. I loved helping with reading at school when my girls were younger. Like you, I’m hoping we can do more stuff as a family as they get older.

  8. mummywifeme
    December 5, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Well there you go. I had no idea it was international volunteer day. I did some volunteer work in my early twenties, but none since then. I’d really like to get back into it even if it’s just helping out at daycare on excursions etc for now.

    • This Charming Mum
      December 6, 2014 at 9:13 pm

      Daycare excursions are a great way to lend a hand. The kids love it too when mum or dad come along to daycare and school things. And it always reminds me exactly why I’m not a childcare professional!

  9. Kirsty
    December 5, 2014 at 11:18 am

    Hey, Lara. I’ve been volunteering for a couple of years for VoRTCS (Volunteer Refugee Tutoring and Community Support) which is run by St Vinnies. I felt very frustrated by all the hate-mongering around refugees. I vented a lot on Twitter but wanted to end that impotent feeling. After a few training sessions I was hooked up with a Sudanese family and I’ve worked closely with the mother working on her reading and writing. I’ve been very touched by the way me and my fellow tutors have been welcomed into our family’s home. I very much look forward to that weekly cup of tea and general conversation before we get into the tutoring proper.

    • This Charming Mum
      December 6, 2014 at 9:15 pm

      Hi Kirsty, nice to hear from you! I’m so pleased to hear positive feedback from a VoRTCS volunteer. I looked into that one myself awhile ago, for the same reasons as you, but I couldn’t commit to the training at the time. It’s a very worthwhile way to volunteer though, personally rewarding and ethically satisfying on all sorts of levels I’m sure. x

  10. December 5, 2014 at 10:13 am

    I’ve written a few articles for Volunteering GC and they do such good work. Volunteering is a great way to get qualifications and often a foot in the door when it comes to getting a job! Great post x

    • This Charming Mum
      December 6, 2014 at 9:17 pm

      Yes, I did some academic writing about volunteering at one stage and I was amazed at how organised it all is now – workplace health and safety, references and so on. It means that you can really make volunteering a useful addition to your CV while you are doing something good for the community. I know a few people who’ve turned volunteering into a paid job over time!

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