Megan Webb explores the benefits of volunteering.
Many people seem to volunteer because they feel they need to in order to boost their CV. For me, whilst that is a bonus, I do it because I have a passion for the charity or organisation. It’s difficult to make a difference if you don’t share the same passion and drive as the organisation you volunteer for.
Volunteering offers an opportunity to give back to a community or help others – and if you are able to spare a few hours of your time, either regularly or as a one-off, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t. It’s likely that you have an awful lot to offer and even more to gain
One word of advice would be to choose something that you’re good at; something that you’re passionate about so that it makes you want to be in it for the long term. You never really know where it could lead, with the skills you have picked up along the way on your journey of volunteering.
I’ve volunteered over the long term and the short term and I’ve learned a lot about the various ways different organisations work- a skill I don’t believe I would have had access to without volunteering, particularly as I am still at an undergraduate level, so have not yet been in full-time employment. For me in particular, volunteering has been part of the journey of finding exactly what it is that I want to do with my life.
I’ve volunteered as a youth leader, in community cafes, for environmental education organisations and forest schools, for the Essex Wildlife Trust and the Cornwall Wildlife Trust. My longest voluntary position has been with an incredible charity called Compassion. They are a Christian child sponsorship charity, which aims to release children from poverty in 26 countries around the world. Through sponsors, 1.7 million children are being cared for by Compassion and have been raised out of the depths of poverty and given an opportunity for a life of learning, dreaming and becoming who they want to be. I was lucky enough to witness their work first hand in Ghana this June and I have never had a more humbling or mind-blowing experience.
I started volunteering with Compassion at the age of 15, speaking at events, churches and to my friends about their work and getting children sponsored. Out of this trip, I was inspired to work towards setting up my own non-profit (Project 62) collecting football shirts to send to those in developing communities, to encourage social change and allow children to dream about their futures. It has been a real challenge but my previous volunteer work has contributed massively to enabling me to do this.
There is a long way to go but I have more of an understanding of the non-profit world than if I hadn’t volunteered. Many organisations, like Compassion, have a number of paid staff but rely on the hundreds of volunteers to aid the work they do. Without volunteers, the difference organisations and charities make wouldn’t be as impactful.
It’s an amazing thing that giving up such a small amount of time per week could make such a huge difference. I urge you to think about what it is you’re passionate about and, if you’re not sure, then volunteering is a good place to start!
Find out more about compassion here.
Find out more about Project 62 here.