By its very definition, volunteering does not provide a paycheck. But offering your free time for a good cause can offer some significant financial benefits.
For example, I volunteer for an animal rescue group. This appeals to my passion for animals and allows me to spend time with fellow pet lovers. Through my volunteering with this organization, I have also learned how to use Dropbox, create group e-mails, and organize events. My future plans as a volunteer include mastering Microsoft Excel and creating and populating an Instagram account.
All of that valuable education was earned without spending a dime, and I can use that experience for paying work. This is just one example. Here are five ways volunteering can pay off for you:
1. Get cool stuff free. Many nonprofit organizations offer their volunteers amazing perks. For example:
· Volunteers at the New England Aquarium receive free whale watch passes and aquarium memberships, receive discounts at the gift shop, and can visit other attractions at a discounted rate – as well as get the priceless experience of feeding sea creatures in the giant ocean tank.
· Theater loving volunteers view performances at Huntington Theater Company in Boston without opening their wallets. They usher patrons to their seats, hand out programs, and answer basic questions. In return, they can enjoy a variety of shows and receive an inside look at stage production... all for free.
· Volunteers at the Museum of Science in Boston get free parking and exhibit admission, café and library privileges, and discounts at the gift shop, which presents great ideas for unique holiday and birthday gifts.
2. Land your dream job. Studies have shown that unemployed people who volunteer regularly have a 27 percent greater chance of landing another job.
Volunteers are viewed as motivated, dependable, and hard-working—three key traits employers value. Volunteering can also help expand your personal network. You never know...the volunteer chairing the finance committee could be a hiring manager at a company you'd love to work for!
Even if you have a job, volunteering can help you find an even better and more lucrative gig.
3. Learn new skills. You can go into a volunteer situation knowing very little but come out it with a whole set of valuable skills, just as I did with my animal rescue group. Habitat for Humanity, for example, encourages volunteers, even those who have never wielded a hammer, and will train them during the project. It's a great way to learn to paint a room or frame a window, which could lead to finding a new profession or, at least, teach you to do more of your own DIY repairs to save money.
4. Spend more time with like-minded people...and less time with your doctor. Studies have shown that the lack of social interaction ranks with smoking and heavy alcohol consumption as risk factors for mortality.
One of the best ways to bond with people, experts say, is to create connections with those who share your interests and bolster your support system.
Studies also show that volunteering leads to a greater sense of connection and lower rates of depression, especially among people over 65.
5. Help the economy. In Massachusetts, more than 1.8 million residents volunteered in 2017, according to a study released in 2018 by serve.gov. Their service has an estimated economic value of $3.4 billion. That same study showed that over the past 15 years, Americans volunteered 120 billion hours at a value to the economy of $2.6 trillion. That’s trillion with a t. That frees up a lot of money for roadwork, school improvements, and other vital projects that improve our residents' quality of life.
And all because people like you decided to make a difference.
Of course, volunteering is just a good thing to do. That it can provide some real financial benefits for the volunteer is icing on the cake.
Hanscom FCU's Member Advisory Group is always looking for new members and is considered the first step in the credit union volunteer journey. It meets quarterly with the Chairman of the Board and the President/CEO. The group serves as a bridge between credit union leadership and members by providing insight and feedback on issues of concern to Hanscom FCU and the credit union movement. For details or to join the group, send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 781-698-2203.
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