Happy National Volunteer Week!
Some people might be surprised or may think it’s silly that there is an entire week dedicated to celebrating volunteerism, but we’re hoping this blog might change your mind! We’ll start with the numbers. According to the Conference Board of Canada, it is estimated that in 2017 alone, Canadians volunteered over 2 billion hours! This work is valued at nearly 56 billion dollars. Those are some big numbers, but when you break it down, volunteerism also offers a ton of value to individuals, communities, non profit organizations, and businesses.
Let’s start with individuals. If you reflect on your past, you can probably think of at least one, and probably more than one instance where volunteerism has either directly or indirectly impacted you as an individual. Maybe you were a volunteer and had a transformational experience that truly changed how you think or feel. There’s also a good chance that at some point in your life there was a volunteer (ex: coach, camp counsellor, or mentor) that made a positive impact on your life. Individual volunteers benefit from skill development and networking opportunities. As an added bonus, volunteerism has also been shown to yield significant health benefits!
Communities are held together by people helping people. In many communities, volunteers do everything from hosting small events to keeping parks clean. Have you ever noticed that communities tend to come together when disaster strikes? Neighbourhoods stick together, and are made prosperous by their collective interest in maintaining a safe and fun space for families. Acts of service tend to bring people together and create tight knit communities. Communities also benefit from volunteerism and support that is offered by various non profit organizations and the volunteers that run them. Our communities would look and feel completely different if it were’t for support from organizations like food banks and mentorship programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Non profit organizations benefit from volunteerism because it increases their capacity and allows them to invest more of their precious resources toward their mission. Volunteerism also opens doors for non profits to access skilled individuals with expertise and knowledge that they might otherwise be unable to afford. Without volunteers, many of the most relied upon non profit organizations wouldn’t be able to function.
Businesses benefit from volunteerism in a number of areas. Improved employee engagement, a heightened sense of purpose and cohesion among employees, improved leadership and skill development, talent attraction, improvements in investor and consumer perception, the list goes on. Companies are increasingly recognizing these benefits and are starting to offer robust programs that facilitate, measure, and celebrate volunteerism and the impact that stems from it.
We’d love to hear about what motivates you to donate your precious time and energy toward causes in your community and beyond. Why do you volunteer? Post in the comments below and on social media with the hashtag #WhyIVolunteer. We’ll collect all responses and create a board of all the reasons people are so generous with their time!