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posted on Jan 21, 2020
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By Maria Lahiffe

Why do people volunteer? Why do they volunteer with you?

People choose to volunteer for a variety of reasons [1]. For some it offers the chance to give something back to the community or make a difference to the people around them. For others it provides an opportunity to develop new skills or build on existing experience and knowledge. Regardless of the motivation, what unites them all is that they find it rewarding.

Why do people volunteer?

Below are some of the reasons people choose to volunteer. For some it provides an opportunity to:

  • Give something back to an organisation that has impacted on a person's life, either directly or indirectly
  • Make a difference to the lives of others
  • Help the environment
  • Help others less fortunate or without a voice
  • Feel valued and part of a team
  • Spend quality time away from work or a busy lifestyle
  • Gain confidence and self-esteem

Volunteering may be a route to employment

For some, volunteering can be a route to employment, or a chance to try something new which may lead to a career change. From this perspective, volunteering can be a way of:

  • Gaining new skills, knowledge and experience
  • Developing existing skills and knowledge
  • Enhancing a CV
  • Improving one's employment prospects
  • Gaining an accreditation
  • Using one's professional skills and knowledge to benefit others (usually described as pro bono)

Volunteering provides social benefits

For others, volunteering appeals because of its social benefits. These include:

  • Meeting new people and making new friends
  • A chance to socialise
  • Getting to know the local community

It is worth asking volunteer applicants about their motivations for volunteering. Someone who is signing up in order to spend time with friends may not approach the job with the same level of professionalism as someone who is volunteering to develop career skills. It is perfectly valid to use professionalism as a screening criterion.

Which of the above motivations would make a volunteer an especially good fit for your organization? Does it depend on the program or the job description?

What now?

Come to an upcoming workshop to improve your volunteer management skills.

Click here for more information, and to register

Volunteer Ottawa offers a comprehensive suite of courses related to all aspects of running a non-profit or a charity. Click here for our event calendar. Subscribe to our Event RSS Feed to be among the first to know when a new workshop is added to the schedule.

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Related blog posts:

[1] "Why Volunteer?," National Council for Voluntary Organizations (NCVO), 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.ncvo.org.uk/ncvo-volunteering/why-volunteer. [Accessed 16 February 2018].
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