Why volunteer?

• Volunteering is a great way to get work experience! You learn new skills by trying new jobs.
• You might find something you'd like to do for a living, or discover what you would not want to do.
• Better yet, you can meet people who can give you guidance and possibly help you to find a paid job later on.
• Some volunteer opportunities involve travel across Canada or to other countries.
• Employers will be impressed that you took the initiative to learn new things.
• You can learn how a charitable organization works.
• Best of all, you will be taking action to promote what you think is important and probably be helping someone else along the way.
• Be the change that you seek!

Benefits of Volunteering

If you're one of the 13.3 million Canadians who volunteer, you may already know that volunteering is as beneficial to you as it is to the causes you care the most about. If not, here are ten reasons to volunteer:

1. Volunteering is good for your mental health. According to Doing Good is Good for You, 2013 Health and Volunteering Study, volunteering helps people manage and lower their stress levels. 94 per cent of those surveyed reported that volunteering also improves their mood. Volunteers also scored higher than non-volunteers on emotional well-being measures including overall satisfaction with life.

2. Volunteering is good for your physical health. This same study showed that 80 per cent of volunteers feel that they have greater control over their health. Volunteers tend to be more engaged health care consumers who make better informed decisions about their health. Volunteering also keeps you active and has been shown to reduce chronic pain and heart disease symptoms.

3. Volunteering is good for your self-confidence. Want to feel better about yourself and what you can do? Want to feel more satisfied with your life? Volunteering can boost all of the above and instill a greater sense of pride and identity.

4. Volunteering can fight depression. Social isolation is a risk factor for depression. Volunteering helps you to develop relationships and a support system, both of which can help you overcome obstacles and fight depression.

5. Volunteering expands your social network. Volunteering can help you make new friends and expand your social network. One of the best ways to make new friends and strengthen existing relationships is to commit to a shared activity together. Volunteering also strengthens your ties to the community and gives you the opportunity to practice and develop your social skills, since you are meeting regularly with a group of people with common interests.

6. Volunteering can help you develop new skills. From interpersonal skills to teamwork, time management, organizational and other professional skills, volunteers must often acquire new skill sets as part of their volunteer work. These are also valuable to employers.

7. Volunteering can help you put existing skills to work. Many volunteers appreciate being able to contribute their talents in a meaningful manner. Whether you have business skills the organization needs or have a unique talent that needs an outlet, volunteering is a great way to put your existing skills to work.

8. Volunteering can advance your career. 71 per cent of the Doing Good is Good for You respondents felt that volunteering provided them with networking opportunities and job-related contacts and 49 per cent of new volunteers said that volunteering had helped them in the paid job market.

9. Volunteering can expose you to new career options. Volunteering is a great way to try out different job roles and industries. Many people have found their true calling after volunteering.

10. Volunteering can make a difference in causes that are important to you. In addition, volunteering can help you to contribute to causes that are close to your heart. Whether you've lost a loved one to a devastating disease or have been moved to do something to ease the pain and suffering of others, your volunteer work can improve the lives of others while simultaneously delivering all of the above benefits.

Who needs volunteers?

• Hospitals
• Charities
• Clubs
• Overseas development organizations
• Music and arts festivals
• Sporting leagues and events
• Children's camps
• Libraries
• Environmental organizations
• Crisis lines and peer counselling organizations
• Human rights organizations
• Religious organizations
• Political campaigns
• Government agencies (local, provincial, federal)

What are some of the things a volunteer can do?

• Coach a team.
• Read to children.
• Raise money for charity (fight diseases, reduce poverty, help the sick and injured, etc.).
• Care for the elderly.
• Feed the hungry.
• Provide counselling and support.
• Run errands and do deliveries.
• Gather and analyze data.
• Raise awareness of important issues.
• Do clean-up and repairs in the community.
• Build houses or playground equipment.
• Care for animals.
• Stage concerts, plays and other cultural events.
• Protect the environment.
• Plant trees.
• Help-out with a political campaign.

Where can you find volunteer opportunities?

View our community opportunities here
• Call a service club.
• Visit a hospital.
• Ask family, friends and neighbours what they recommend.
• Join an organization whose activities you support.

Links, Articles and Videos

Volunteerism -- best platform for personal and professional development: Tuan Nguyen at TEDxUOttawa

Volunteering: a local view: Alistair Volunteering at TEDxExeter

How to pick an organization to volunteer for

Volunteering has been shown to be as beneficial to volunteers as it is to the beneficiaries of all that hard work, but where do you start? In order to reap the most benefits and feel truly satisfied, you need to find a good fit. Use the tips below to find a meaningful volunteer opportunity.

Where to begin

Start with some soul-searching and a self-assessment. What are you passionate about? Who do you want to help?
For some, the answer is obvious; for others, it's hard to focus. For example, if a family member has been affected by disease, you may be passionate about volunteering for an organization dedicated to finding a cure. On the other hand, you could be passionate about the plight of disaster victims, the environment, or abused animals.
It gets easier once you pick a cause, but you will still need to choose an organization among many. One way to narrow the field is to decide whether you want to get involved at the local, national, or international level.
From there, it's time to start researching the various organizations that match. View our community opportunities here.