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5 Reasons You Should Work for Free…to Get Paid

I am re-posting this original blog article I wrote in April of 2013. A lot has changed for me professionally—I went from a non-profit career to starting a small business. The shift was significant, but my ties to the local community and passion for volunteering and philanthropy have remained steadfast. 

 

Over the last decade, volunteerism has increased tremendously.

+ Many high school students must now complete volunteers hours to satisfy graduation requirements.

 

+ Young professionals are making their resumes more memorable with pro bono projects/clients.

 

+ And the rest of us continue to decorate our LinkedIn profiles with volunteer leadership roles on committees, boards, and service organizations; and more!

 

In 2010 the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that volunteerism was at its all time high since 2003. Since then, it’s skyrocketed even more. Last year [2012], the US Department of Labor released a statement, “About 64.5 million people volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2011 and September 2012.”

 

Here are 5 reasons it pays to volunteer: 

 

1. Volunteering builds your soft skills. Standing apart from your peers in a competitive job market can be tough. Volunteering a few hours a month within a non-profit organization or foundation can build skills such as: team building, communication, decision making, and public speaking. These skills can help you nail an interview and make a lasting impression.

 

2. Volunteering generates a networking ripple. If you are looking to gain professional contacts or make new friends, volunteering is the most organic way to go. Working alongside like-minded individuals to complete a task is the ideal foundation for a connection.

 

3. Beef up your resume. If you are a student or in-between jobs, volunteering can fill the void on your resume. Volunteering at a nonprofit can improve your soft skills, but volunteering in a specialized department can build your hard skills too. If you want to gain experience in event planning, public relations, marketing or fundraising, volunteer in the development department. On the other hand, if you are interested in working with different populations such as at-risk youth, homeless, or special needs, ask about the various programs offered to find one that suits your interests.

 

4. Join a cause that moves you. There is nothing more compelling than a cause or movement that enchants you with its inspiring elevator speeches and success tales. If you feel strongly about a particular mission because of a personal connection, give back to that organization by volunteering. Don’t know of a specific cause you would like to support? Think about your interests and identify the common factor. For example, if you are a fitness guru and want to support fitness among youth, perhaps you will find a strong connection to a non-profit program such as Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Triple Play Program. Use CharityNavigator.org to identify US nonprofits you may want to support.

 

5. Feel good about yourself. This is most obvious on the list, but nonetheless, it’s still important. Volunteering helps you connect with your community, find purpose in life, and provides a sense of satisfaction.  

 

No matter how busy you are as a professional (employee, business owner, entrepreneur, etc.), find a few hours each month to volunteer. It gives you a sense of purpose you had no idea you needed. 

 

 

 Jaclyn Boruch

 jb@theWMG.com

 Wealth Marketing Group

 

 

 

 

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