How Fundraising and Volunteering Boost Your Resume and Mental Health

Fundraising and Volunteering

Hi guys! Enjoy this guest post from Holly! xoxoxox, Kayla

Can’t decide whether you should volunteer? When you offer to work for free — even for a charitable cause — it’s natural to have reservations. Aside from the lack of immediate monetary benefit, volunteering also requires you to donate time, energy and resources you may not have. Still, it’s worth considering.

Whether you’re still in college, or fresh out of it, being a volunteer can be rewarding. As you will see, the benefits of volunteering often more than make up for the “unpaid” aspect.

Volunteering Improves Your Career Prospects

If you think employers turn their noses up at “volunteer work,” think again. When the Corporation for National and Community Service tracked 70,535 individuals who volunteered between 2002 and 2012, they found that these people were 27 percent more likely to find employment. By the way, that’s after controlling for other variables like gender, race, age and unemployment rate.

Volunteering Provides Opportunities to Upgrade Your Skills

Since there’s a positive link between volunteering and your employment prospects, your next question is “Why does that link exist?” Simple: Volunteering is a great way to work around the so-called “Permission Paradox”: You can’t find a job if you don’t have experience, but you can’t gain experience if you don’t have a job.

No matter how “basic” your volunteer work is, it provides a chance to show off what you’ve got. For example, if your organization is a little short on cash, you can set up a fundraising page and make it work through your knowledge of marketing. Remember: When you put 100 percent into everything you do, you can easily write an attention-grabbing resume.

Volunteering Boosts Your Physical and Mental Health

 You may have heard that volunteering lowers your chances of depression and is a great self-esteem booster. This makes sense: Volunteering requires frequent social interaction, so you’re less likely to feel isolated from everyone else and it can give you a real sense of purpose and drive. Did you know it benefits your physical health too?

According to a study from Carnegie Mellon University, volunteers had a lower risk of high blood pressure than non-volunteers. Although this link isn’t as direct as it seems — volunteers are also more likely to have healthy habits like eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly — it’s still in line with results from similar studies.

There’s a caveat, however: You can reap these benefits only if your motives for volunteering are at least mostly altruistic. If you volunteer because of self-serving reasons, and not because you genuinely want to help people, your mortality risk doesn’t significantly differ from those of non-volunteers.

Volunteering Helps You Understand Others

 As a volunteer, you’re exposed to all kinds of people. Some will make your life swell, others will make your life hell. No matter who you meet, though, take the event as an opportunity to understand how other human beings tick. When you’re able to do this, you learn empathy, the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Empathy is possibly the most crucial life skill you can ever learn.

Now What?

 Now that you’re aware of the benefits of volunteering, you can start by looking into your own interests. What are the things you value most? Which organizations align with those interests? Look them up online, and see whether you can picture yourself working with them for at least a few months. If you think you’d make a good volunteer, why not give it a go?

Holly Whitman is a freelance writer and journalist, originally from the UK but now based in Washington DC. You can find her on Twitter at @hollykwhitman and more of her writing on her blog, Only Slightly Biased


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  1. Georgiana Daniels

    April 14, 2016 at 5:28 pm

    What a great idea! When I used to hire people, those who volunteered their time would definitely trump those who didn’t. And the advice isn’t just for those fresh out of college—I’ll be returning to the workforce soon after more than a decade off. Volunteering is, like you said, a great way to sharpen skills and have something to put on my resume to show I haven’t been sitting home watching Dr. Phil. At the same time, helping people is always a good idea 🙂

  2. Faith Dumais

    April 14, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    I so agree! I love volunteering!


  3. Kate

    April 15, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    It is so therapeutic to get out of the “me me me” mindset and give of yourself to someone else! I would love for you to link this with us at 100 Happy Days!

  4. Zach

    April 28, 2016 at 10:17 am

    Hi Holly!

    Thanks so much for your post. It actually inspired me to add a section to something I wrote today. I was talking about expanding your skill set cheaply (mostly freely) and I thought “huh, what about the Y? They have lots of learning opportunities and you can volunteer there!”

    So I thought this article was so great about the benefits of volunteering (personally and professionally) that I went ahead and linked to it. Hope you don’t mind!

    Thanks also to Kayla for getting a great guest post!

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