Volunteering is a satisfying experience. You get to share your time, talents, and ideas with others. More important, you get things in return. “Benefits of Volunteering,” a United Way article published on its Web site, lists the benefits of volunteering. These benefits enhance your professional and personal life.
You make networking contacts, add to your resume, gain more work experience, boost your self-esteem, improve health, meet new people, express your gratitude, demonstrate community spirit, and more. But the best run groups can run into stumbling blocks on the management road web development volunteer projects.
One or two people may take control of the board. Meetings may turn into arguments. Lack of funding may grind you down. Problems like these can make dedicated volunteers re-think their purpose. Should you keep on volunteering or should you stop? This is a hard question and the answer hinges on several things.
Feeling needed. There is nothing worse than attending meetings, sharing your ideas, and having people ignore them. It is time to leave if you feel ignored. Of course you have the option of waiting things out, but it could be a long wait.
Your age. According to Professor Phyllis Moen, Director of the Cornell Retirement Well-Being Study, focus groups show that people who volunteer in their younger years are more likely to volunteer later in life. Moen reported this and other focus group findings at the National Forum on Life Cycles and Volunteering at Cornell University. Age may also be a factor if there are no other volunteers your age.
Gender. In her Cornell University presentation Professor Moen also said that volunteerism was especially beneficial to men, urbanites, people with less income, and retirees who don’t work. You may fit one or several of these categories. These categories impact on your decision to keep volunteering or stop.
General health. People develop health problems as they age. Your eye sight is not as good as it once was and you may have hearing problems. Chronic illness may also affect your health. How is your general health? If health problems are making it difficult to volunteer you should probably stop. However, you may still offer to do some work at home.
New goals. “The impulse to help remains a vital part of Americans’ lives,” according to Michael May Friedman, staff writer for the US Department of State. Friedman gives a brief history of volunteerism in his article, “Lifting Someone Else: Government Encouragement of Volunteer Efforts.” “Volunteerism remains predominately a state and local phenomenon,” he writes. New state and local issues may lead you to new volunteer projects.
Personal rewards. Actor Christopher Morely once said, “Things of the spirit differ from things material in that the more you give you the more you have.” For many, volunteering is a spiritual experience. While volunteerism has many rewards, the best one is knowing you make a difference. Your volunteer efforts are changing lives. Only you can tell when it is time to stop. Until then, thank you for giving to others.