Over the last several years I have had many occasions to serve in some kind of volunteer capacity, some using my public relations skills and others that involved just a listening ear or hands-on work. Giving back to your community is just a good thing to do but if you need some reasons, here you go:
- Your life will be enriched by new friends. Several years ago I volunteered my public relations skills to help raise money and increase volunteers for a soup kitchen in my community. There were a lot of late working nights, and sleepless nights as we sweated through all the details to ensure the success of our campaign. We did see success but the biggest payoff for me was the development of really good friends who I cannot imagine not having in my life.
- You may gain valuable work experience. That same soup kitchen campaign gave me hands-on experience planning and implementing a public relations campaign that saw much success with not only earned media placement, but also exceeding our fundraising goal. It was great for the resume.
- You just might change someone’s life for the good. I have volunteered as a youth mentor for various organizations over the years, and there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a young person find inspiration to be the best they can be.
- You will be a better person. Following the public relations work for the soup kitchen I decided to do some hands-on work for the organization and volunteered to cook and serve. Over the course of the next year I ended up getting more than I gave. I met people who I never would have been exposed to had I not spent time in the kitchen. I also learned that I’m not “all that.” I never considered myself a prideful person but deep down I did see myself a little farther up the food chain than the patrons who frequented the soup kitchen. During that year, I realized how much I had to learn from the people we served.
One final thought about volunteering: It’s important to try out different organizations and give yourself freedom to fail. I’m not saying you should do shoddy work or skip around to different organizations every week. What I mean is that you should give yourself freedom to step down from your volunteer role if you have given all you can give. Remember that there is a season for everything, and this includes both work and rest.