10 Great Things That Happen When You Volunteer

10 Great Things That Happen When You Volunteer

By Tom Connor, Brand Ave. Studios contributing writer

Whoever imagined that volunteers get back every bit as much as they give? Fellow volunteers, of course!

Research proves what volunteers have always known: The rewards of volunteering with nonprofit organizations like United Way of South Hampton Roads far outweigh the time and effort spent. In fact, Mayo Clinic studies show that community service offers actual physical and mental health benefits, especially for older adults.

Here are the top 10 benefits of volunteering:

Good health

Researchers say that volunteering reduces depression, anxiety and stress; decreases the risk of heart disease and other illnesses; and increases longevity and a general sense of well-being by releasing dopamine, the chemical in the brain that plays an important role in motivation, reward and reinforcement.

Inspiring others

There’s nothing like seeing a neighbor doing good deeds in the community to inspire young and old alike to get involved. It’s easy to see why: Volunteers look healthy, confident, outgoing and full of purpose.


Community service on a resume tells potential employers that you have a spirit of cooperation and teamwork and that you go the extra mile. One out of five hiring managers in a recent LinkedIn survey agreed that volunteer experience was a factor in hiring a candidate. Volunteering also provides an opportunity to develop leadership skills you might not get at your work.

Self-confidence and self-esteem

Volunteering naturally boosts confidence and self-esteem. By putting the needs of others ahead of our self-interests, we’re letting ourselves know that we’re good people.

Networking and developing new friendships

Working on teams and serving on boards is one of the best ways to meet people, including influential members of the community, and to forge relationships around shared goals for the common good.

New social and networking skills

Volunteering gets us to interact with others — whether on the phone, online or in person — thereby sharpening our people skills.

Being part of the solution

In a day and age of mounting social, medical and environmental challenges and ills, volunteers play a vital role in helping reduce poverty, improve basic health care, increase literacy and combat social exclusion.

Sense of purpose

Identifying as a “volunteer” strengthens our sense of purpose and belonging, giving our lives new meaning.

Paying it forward

Helping those most in need engenders in volunteers a sense of gratitude and provides ways to repay what we’ve been given by parents, teachers, mentors and volunteers before us.

Inspiring the next generation of volunteers

Volunteers for nonprofit organizations like United Way are, in effect, influencers whose contributions to the community are invaluable models for the young seeking purpose and meaning in their lives.

Last year, over 2,000 volunteers served nearly 13,500 hours completing projects organized by United Way at nonprofits across South Hampton Roads.

To join United Way’s volunteer database and be the first to hear about opportunities to both give and benefit from volunteering with United Way, visit unitedwayshr.org/volunteer or email volunteer@unitedwayshr.org.