Guide to Volunteering
A national study found this year that residents of the Washington
region volunteer at a rate higher than the national average, despite
long commutes and busy lives. Residents of suburban Washington generally
devote about 60 hours per year to volunteering, compared with 50
hours nationally, according to the study by the Corporation
for National and Community Service.
People volunteer for a wide variety of reasons, especially wanting
to help others. But it's also OK to want some benefits for yourself
from volunteering. Instead of considering volunteering as something
you do for people who are not as fortunate as yourself, begin to
think of it as an exchange.
Consider that most people find themselves in need at some point
in their lives. So today you may be the person with the ability
to help, but tomorrow you may be the recipient of someone else's
volunteer effort. Even now you might be on both sides of the service
cycle: maybe you are a tutor for someone who can't read, while last
month the volunteer ambulance corps rushed you to the emergency
room. Adding your effort to the work of others makes everyone's
Think about how much you receive when you give and consider why
you want to volunteer. You may have several different reasons. Here
are just a few of the many possible motivations identified by other
- To feel needed
- To share a skill
- To get to know a community
- To demonstrate commitment to a cause/belief
- To gain leadership skills
- To act out a fantasy
- To do your civic duty
- Because of pressure from a friend or relative
- Satisfaction from accomplishment
- To keep busy
- For recognition
- To repay a debt
- To donate your professional skills
- Because there is no one else to do it
- To have an impact
- To learn something new
- For freedom of schedule
- To help a friend or relative
- For escape
- To become an "insider"
- To be challenged
- To be a watchdog
- To feel proud
- To make new friends
- To explore a career
- To help someone
- As therapy
- To do something different from your job
- For fun!
- For religious reasons
- To earn academic credit
- To keep skills alive
- Because an agency is geographically close
- To have an excuse to do what you love
- To be able to criticize
- To assure progress
- To feel good
- To be part of a team
- To gain status
- Because you were asked
- To test yourself
- To build your resume
- To be an agent of change
- Because of personal experience with the problem, illness, or cause
- To stand up and be counted
One of the rewards of volunteering is knowing that you’ve
made a real difference, and actually having the chance to see it
first hand. You will also make new friends, a brilliant opportunity
to meet like-minded people with similar interests. You will also
help the society grow by getting other people involved who wouldn’t
usually get a chance to do this sort of thing. You will ultimately
gain new skills that you will be able to put to good use in the
Why get involved in volunteering? Here are just some of the rewards…
- The ‘Feel good’ Factor: Know and feel that you’ve
made a real difference.
- Increase job prospects: Employers want to know what else you’ve
done at University besides get a degree. Voluntary work always looks
good on a resume.
- Make new friends: Meet like-minded people with similar interests.
- Getting others involved: Help the society grow by getting
other people involved.
- Gain new skills: You will receive all the training that you
need to take part in a project and you will acquire new skills.
- Accreditation: You will have the chance to gain some formal
recognition of your work and the skills you have gained.
- New challenges: You can get involved in something that you’ve
never done before, or something that requires hard work. Facing
that challenge will give you a brilliant sense of achievement!
- FUN: It’s an opportunity to have great fun! It's not
just about volunteer work, but about having a good time and enjoying
You will probably have some special reasons of your own. Remember
that the motivations you have to select the place to offer your
services may not be the reasons why you stay. Once you're on the
volunteer job, you will continue to serve as long as you feel that
your efforts are accomplishing something, that your talents are
appreciated, and that you make a difference. And if you also like
the people with whom you work, so much the better!
As long as you are truly serving through your volunteer work, isn't
it wonderful that such an exchange occurs? In fact, it tends to
strengthen your commitment to volunteering when you can see the
benefits to both the recipient of your efforts and to yourself.
And it is much more comfortable than "charity" because
it upholds the self-esteem of those with whom you volunteer.
Here are some links to get started in, or to continue, your volunteering
Public Service Careers and Volunteering
Volunteering and NonProfit Careers
for National and Community Service
The Corporation for National and Community Service plays a
vital role in supporting the American culture of citizenship, service
and responsibility. We are a catalyst for change and champion for
the ideal that every American has skills and talents to give.
Volunteer Fairfax mobilizes people and resources to meet regional
community needs. They value people and believe that through volunteer
service people have the capacity to enrich their own lives and improve
the quality of life in their communities.
Way National Capital Area
For almost 30 years, UWNCA has been a recognized leader in
community building in the Washington area. UWNCA was founded in
1974 when the United Givers Fund, the Health and Welfare Council,
and the United Black Fund merged, creating the 23rd largest United
Way in the nation. By 1980, UWNCA became the first United Way to
include nationally known nonprofits, such as the American Heart
Association and the American Cancer Society, in its annual fundraising
Alexandria Volunteer Bureau
The mission of the Alexandria Volunteer Bureau is to link volunteers
with community non-profit organizations and local events. To find
opportunities in the area, take a look at thier Volunteer
Hotlist or check out other opportunities at www.1-800volunteer.org.
If you register there, they will be able to notify you of opportunities
as they are posted.
1-800-Volunteer.org is a national database of volunteer opportunities
powered by a volunteer management system for non-profits. You can
seach today to find a place to volunteer or help in your local community.
Tens of thousands of opportunities are available through our
online network every day. Even if you already volunteer, chances
are you'll find opportunities that you didn't know existed. Want
to feed the hungry? Tutor kids? Deliver medicine to seniors? They
can help you find
a great place to volunteer! With VolunteerMatch, it's never
been easier to find a rewarding way to give back and make a difference.
If You Choose to Volunteer
Your efforts will be valued. You will be at your best when you
work to bring together individuals, neighborhoods, schools, businesses,
government, nonprofits, faith-based and other community organizations
to achieve a common vision of a better community.
Help sometimes comes at a price or with a hidden agenda,
but our helpful guides have neither. We hope that the information
in our Leewood Times Guides give you starting
points and focus. Our goal is to assist you in making informed decisions.
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