Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Volunteering: Giving Back Has Many Benefits

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Volunteering: Giving Back Has Many Benefits

Article excerpt

What comes to mind when you think of volunteering? Dedicating your time to a noble cause? "Giving back" to your community? Helping others? One usually thinks of the benefit derived by the recipient of the effort, but in fact there are dozens of ways volunteering can help you.

In addition to being personally rewarding, volunteering is an excellent way to expand your professional network. By working with others toward a common goal, you form relationships and connections with others who care about the same things you do. These relationships often pay dividends down the road when you are looking for a trusted source to ask for advice, provide support or just brainstorm around an idea. The connections you make with fellow volunteers can become friendships that last far beyond the volunteer opportunity that brought you together.

Some years ago, I was talking with a board member in my organization at the time, and he said something that struck me. He said he gained leadership experience through volunteering long before becoming a leader in his own workplace, and the experience he gained through volunteering was a catalyst for his professional ascent. Leadership in a volunteer setting can help develop skills needed to become a leader in your organization. In an article in Forbes Magazine, contributor Richard Pound writes, "The type of leadership at the top is akin to being a leader of volunteers; it is not about carrots and sticks but about persuasion and getting people to grasp and follow your vision." In a volunteer setting, you do not have compensation and organizational authority to keep your team moving forward, therefore tactful motivation and consensus building is essential to reaching your goals. …

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