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Corporate Social Responsibility

Is volunteering worth it?

I have been working in the volunteer management space for around 4 years. Every time I engage a volunteer or manage a program in which I have engaged a volunteer I always ask them why did they volunteer and did they learn anything? Most volunteers respond that they felt amazing volunteering and that they have learnt a lot more from the experience than they expected. They mention that they have derived more value than they expected they would.
How does volunteering enrich a person?
1) Professionally: student volunteers get to apply their book knowledge in a practical setting when they volunteer with NGOs. This also helps them add value to their CV. Mid level professionals get to provide specialized or high level help to NGO something that would not be able to do at their full-time jobs as it would not be part of their roles and responsibilities.
Many times people want to try out different roles and that becomes possible when they do skill based volunteering at NGOs. Some people may be working as an HR professional but would always want to dabble in content writing. This is something that they can achieve while volunteering at an NGO. In addition, they learn to make the most out of what they have. NGOs, given the limited budgets have to get things done in a constrained manner. This helps you come up with innovative solutions to
existing problems.
2) Emotionally: I worked at an NGO where we ran a volunteer based mentoring program. We would pair a child from a low income school to a mentor who could be anyone ranging from a college student to a housewife to a mid level working professional to a CEO. One such volunteer we had was a working professional, when asked to share his experience, he mentioned that he never expected to take back so
much from the process he said that he had learnt more than he taught his mentee. He mentioned that his biggest learning and takeaway was empathy. The child he mentored always had a smile on his face despite his circumstances, but the volunteer/mentor, however, before the program began, would crib about small things like missing his bus, not being able to find a rickshaw on his way to work etc. He mentioned from now on I will not complain and try to be more like my mentee.
Just like this many volunteers earn the gift of empathy and compassion once they volunteer with an NGO.
These are a few of the many unrealized or unexpected benefits you will receive from volunteering. So volunteer today and find out for yourself the benefits that you take back 🙂

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