I have been fortunate enough over the last few years to volunteer with various organizations in a mix of settings. In addition to volunteering, I have also been able to make donations to some organizations. The ethical, moral, and spiritual benefits are well known. I will not belabor this point too much because smarter people have already eloquently discussed this topic (See Immanual Kant, Utilitarianism, religious texts, political speeches, etc). However I will say, helping someone better his or her life is a fantastic feeling.
A major advantage of volunteering is the personal growth that accompanies it. I have acquired new skills, exposed myself to new populations, and exchanged ideas. Interacting with new people provides unique opportunities to better understand different customs and cultures. This new knowledge can be utilized at work, open you up to new opportunities, or even passed onto others.
Additional benefits include improving your health, financial considerations, and connecting with others. I was actually surprised to learn volunteering has health benefits, particularly mental health and mortality (it also seemed that physical measures may see improvement too).1 In many situations, you can write off donations to lower your tax bill. Public image can be bolstered. It can be a type of advertising or a platform to spread a message.
The list goes on. One of the most important benefits to me is the relationships you form. As in other social situations, you have a great opportunity to forge relationships with others. In my case, I made a pretty awesome friendship that beats all the rest. I actually met my fiancee volunteering in wheelchair basketball.* So many great reasons to give back, but it is hard to beat this one.
More About Giving Back:
*Disclaimer: Volunteering is not a guaranteed way to find a spouse.
Hope that helps,
- Jenkinson CE, Dickens AP, Jones K, Thompson-Coon J, Taylor RS, Rogers M, Bambra CL, Lang I, Richards SH. Is volunteering a public health intervention? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the health and survival of volunteers. BMC Public Health. 2013;13:773.