Volunteering isn’t only about the time you give away, the impact you make, or the emotional investment in a cause. Volunteering is a two-way street: It can benefit you and your family as much as the cause you choose to help. Dedicating your time as a volunteer helps you make new friends, expand your network, enhance professional skills, and boost social skills.
Volunteering allows you to connect with your community and make it a better place.
United Way of Central Minnesota serves as a hub to align individual volunteers and the organizations seeking their support, with the singular goal to serve our community’s greatest needs. Currently, United Way is engaging with 92 agencies with 196 volunteer openings. Volunteer needs are constantly evolving, based on changes in staff, community needs, and more. We also help organizations find volunteers who fulfill the passion, time commitment, and skillsets you’re seeking.
Why is volunteerism important for community success? It supports the two-way street we mentioned earlier: volunteerism provides essential support for many organizations who could not survive without volunteers, and it enhances the individual health and well-being of volunteers.
Let’s take a closer look at the rewards of volunteering.
Personal benefits of volunteering
Doing good for others and your community helps to create a natural sense of accomplishment. And volunteering can give you a sense of pride and purpose as you explore interests, meet new people, and learn new skills. Here’s a snapshot of the benefits individuals can gain from volunteering:
- Connection with others. It can be a great way to meet new people, network, improve social skills, and gain work experience. Connecting with people can reduce loneliness and depression, improve mental health, and provide a sense of purpose.
- Mental and physical health benefits. Volunteering can help people stay physically and mentally active and reduce stress. As emotional and physical health go hand-in-hand, volunteering can promote health for the long-term.
- A sense of purpose. Because volunteering means choosing to work without receiving monetary compensation, people often choose to give their time to causes or organizations they feel are important. This provides a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that is unique to the volunteer experience.
- Career opportunities. Volunteering can help individuals explore professional growth opportunities, gain new skills, and meet professional peers and mentors. Through volunteering, you’re likely to connect with like-minded individuals with common interests and a willingness to support your personal and professional pursuits.
Community benefits of volunteering
On the other side of the “two-way” street of volunteering resides the community impact of giving our time to people, causes, and organizations we care about. For many organizations, volunteerism is essential for survival.
Volunteers provide tangible, and intangible, benefits to organizations and communities:
- Supplement staff positions. Volunteers provide valuable hours of labor, expertise, and experience that organizations may not otherwise afford. According to Globe Newswire, volunteers contributed $187.7 billion to the U.S. through their time, talent, and effort in 2019. This equates to a value of volunteer time of $27.20 per hour, which illustrates the average hourly wage organizations would have to pay for the services provided by volunteers. Ultimately, volunteers contribute to the bottom line of the 1.6 million tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations in the U.S.
- Fulfillment of mission and goals. Volunteers become strong advocates for the organizations and the individuals they serve, which promotes growth and awareness within the community and among important advocacy and support groups.
- Fundraising growth. In addition to offering their time and talents, many volunteers donate financially to the organizations they serve. They become important advocates for sharing the mission and encouraging others to offer financial support.
- Professional expertise. Organizations benefit from volunteers who offer their professional expertise and experience in various roles and areas. Many companies support employees contributing their time, talents and service to board of directors, committees, community volunteer days and more.
Volunteerism has changed dramatically in Central Minnesota over the recent years and especially since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many organizations suspended their volunteer programs and are now slowly bringing volunteers back in new and different ways.Volunteer programs have adapted with safety in mind. From reducing the size of the group to following COVID-19 guidelines, our volunteers can feel safe as they return to program sites
A number of agencies have found creative ways to navigate a “new normal” related to volunteer efforts. Remote opportunities keep volunteers engaged with activities such as sewing masks, tying blankets, assembling educational kits for youth, organizing drives, and more. Some volunteer opportunities have seamlessly transitioned to virtual or remote, such as youth mentoring and tutoring. Communities have demonstrated resilience and innovation in the ways they continue to engage volunteers in meaningful ways.
Let us help you!
United Way can work with you to explore creative options for volunteers that support the most pressing needs of your organization and the people you serve. We can assist with virtual volunteer opportunities, outdoor projects, and working directly with companies who offer employees paid time off to volunteer during work hours. Many employers emphasize community engagement to attract and retain employees. Volunteerism can also help organizations identify employees with like minded values that promote community success.
We also offer training for board members who are new to serving on a board of directors or simply want a refresher course on the responsibilities of board service.
Get started right now
- For individual volunteer opportunities, check out our volunteer platform for current listings. Keep in mind that not all volunteer opportunities are listed here, so contact us if you’re looking for a specific opportunity.
- If your organization is in need of volunteers, please contact us for help. We have many options we can explore with you.
- As always, help is always a phone call away with our 211 resource. This is a free, confidential service that connects people across Central Minnesota to the local resources they need 24/7.
Volunteerism is one of the greatest resources in every community, and United Way of Central MN is passionate about doing our part to ensure the positive rewards of volunteerism are available and felt by every community member and organization.