Many people see community service as a chore, but it is so much more than that. Community service benefits you with a sense of accomplishment and a chance to better your neighborhood.
There are a wide range of community service benefits when you sign up to volunteer. Community service is a way to provide your community with help in any way you can. You might be cleaning up a park, assisting a houseless animal, or volunteering at a soup kitchen. Regardless, that feeling you get from helping others is priceless. The relationships you build with the people you work with and the people you help will have a lasting impression on you. It is a chance to have a positive impact on the world. Another great benefit is the sense of accomplishment you get from doing good on purpose.
Why Is Community Service Important For Society?
There is so much happening around us that it can seem hard to catch a break at times. Volunteering activities allow us to reinvest that energy into our communities, to transition from feeling helpless to helpful. We need that as a reminder of our impact when choosing a constructive action opposed to a destructive one. It is not only beneficial to you as an individual but to the institutions around us. The needs of local communities aren’t always the first priority; community service benefits us on a direct level by shrinking that gap.
A prime example of this impact can be seen if we compare nonprofit-centered healthcare to traditional healthcare. Traditional medical groups are for-profit and may favor decisions that their Board of Drectors agree with, even if they do not align with the highest interests of their patients. Nonprofit hospitals abide by a “Community Benefits'' value system which is noted as “providing benefits to a class of persons that is broad enough to benefit the community”, under the Affordable Care Act. This allows charitable hospitals to receive a tax exemption and as a result, their best interest is to do right by the patients they serve.
The real-world benefits of this could mean offering wellness options that expand accessibility for local residents, such as an exam with payment available on a sliding scale or for free. Think of the number of people and families who wouldn’t be able to access quality healthcare if these hospitals no longer received funding. Instead of taking a step back, community service gives us the opportunity to raise awareness with our actions and strengthen existing opportunities for community-based care.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Community Service?
What are the community service benefits you may experience by volunteering, on an individual and community level? There are a few things to be aware of before you jump in and commit to a project and organization. Here are the pros and cons:
Pros: Community Service Benefits
- Organizations often have a deep relationship to the local communities they serve. By contributing to their work, you can become more familiar with the needs of your neighborhood, city, and state. That new level of awareness allows you to be more informed on where support is needed and how you can collaborate with others to reach collective goals. It is often a common experience for people in the philanthropic space to transfer that energy into politics and to provide a different form of impact.
- The Brennan Center found that “in a city of 100,000, each new nonprofit community organization lead to a 1.2 percent drop in the homicide rate, a one percent reduction in the violent crime rate, and a 0.7 percent reduction in the property crime rate”. Community service benefits the entire community, impacting future generations and leaders. Volunteering activities act as a defensive tool within low-income communities that have experienced the increase in violence. It offers an after-school experience that protects youth who might journey down less savory paths. This is incredibly beneficial to youth and their families, ultimately contributing to a lower mortality rate in these communities.
- There are many community service benefits for corporate philanthropy! It allows companies to develop customized programs for employees to give back and engage with local and/or global communities. Many companies also provide time off for their staff to volunteer which helps ease any time-based burdens. From networking to professional development to team bonding, it provides many possibilities to leverage professional skills and to help you reach your future goals. Does your employer have an employee engagement program? Contact our Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships, Nikita Scott [[email protected]] to learn more about upgrading your CSR program and partnering with Catchafire.
- Community service can be a wonderful way for those with mental health issues to socialize and build relationships in a purpose-filled forum. It allows you to readjust your focus and combat loneliness to do work where one can see the tangible impact of our actions. Per thebalancesmb.com, prisoners make up the largest demographic of mental illness in North America. For programs that pair shelter dogs with inmates such as Paws for Life, it has been noted that inmates become more committed to their rehabilitation. Additionally, these types of programs support the recovery of veterans with PTSD.
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Cons: Things to Consider
- If your skills and time given are the ice cream base, then your passion for the mission is the cherry on top. Volunteering with organizations requires an intentional connection and a desire to bring a can-do attitude into the mix. Most nonprofits want to know that you have an interest or better yet, a for their cause, within that first contact. Not only does it help them build trust-based relationships, it also sharpens your focus. Without it, you may become easily unmotivated during volunteering activities and feel unfulfilled once they are complete. If you don’t have any causes that spark your fire, community service may not be right for you at this time!
- Most nonprofits are always in search of increased funding and this can be reflected by their limited staff capacity and loosely defined structure. As a result, you might be helping a team of 9 or a team of 2 [including yourself!]. You might be expected to act independently and self-regulate for task management at times. If you prefer working with large teams or receiving more oversight for guidance, community service may not align with your needs.
- This may be an obvious con but as a reminder, volunteer work is free-of-charge. Whether it is a small or large request and a short or lengthy project, you are expected to provide high-quality work to benefit the community. There are many intangible benefits you can reap but if you prefer to only provide labor in exchange for financial compensation, volunteering may not be of interest to you.
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7 Benefits of Community Service
1. Build a Connection With Others
Community service can get you out of your comfort zone by helping you to make friends or strengthen existing relationships. This can be helpful if you’re engaging in an opportunity that requires weekly or monthly participation to adequately invest in these connections. It’s an opportunity to explore activities that can be fun with people from diverse backgrounds. Your experiences can also become wonderful memories in helping to make the world a better place with your loved ones.
2. Give Back Value To Your Community
Community organizations need the support of local volunteers like you to keep moving. Without it, most organizations wouldn't be able to sustain their efforts. By volunteering, you’re not only supporting their work, but you’re saving them money and allowing them to reinvest into the communities they serve. A great example of this is when you volunteer with environmental nonprofits that center around national parks. Wxith the help of volunteers, they get to continue their conservation work without interruption. Meanwhile, you gain more experience and can raise awareness about the need to preserve our parks. Now that is inspiring!
3. Improve Your Mind and Body
Older adults can have issues with maintaining a sharp focus as time passes, especially those in senior homes. By volunteering, they’re able to practice problem-solving and be mentally stimulated in a consistent manner. This can present itself as a new lease on life if you’re retired and would love to participate in a meaningful activity with others. It’s also great for mental health and helping you destress. This can aid in slowing down the aging process, burning stubborn belly fat, and even in preventing illnesses such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s. It is noted that people who volunteer over 100 hours a year are some of the healthiest in the United States- isn’t that amazing?! Try adding more volunteer hours to your routine to improve your well-being.
4. Advance In Your Career
Community service gives you the opportunity to brush up on old skills, master your current skill set, and diversify your resume with new skills. No matter what level you stand on within your career, it can be beneficial. Outside of the work you can do, it’s also advantageous for volunteers that want to take on leadership roles. Many exceptional volunteers go on to improve their communication, problem solving, and public speaking skills, as well as self-confidence. Over half of volunteers on Catchafire stay involved beyond the first project, with many becoming repeat volunteers, donors, or Board members. Additionally, school-aged youth can utilize volunteering to boost their college applications and college students can volunteer to boost their post-grad job search. Volunteering provides a significant stepping stone in personal and professional growth.
5. Gain Knowledge of Other Ways of Life
Community service allows you to travel without ever leaving your house! Since there are local and global nonprofits with volunteering activities and opportunities available on Catchafire, you are able to explore diverse perspectives and learn new information whenever you’d like. By working with international organizations, you can learn about various languages, cultures, and traditions, which can help your portfolio stand out and shine.
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6. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Volunteering requires you to utilize critical thinking skills at a typically fast pace for problem-solving. If you’re used to making decisions and moving based on what’s familiar, this will challenge you in the best of ways. It gives you the chance to meet new people and welcome innovative ways to approach issues. Additionally, if you’ve found yourself stuck in a professional rut, this is one easy way to experiment with your skill set and get a tangible assessment of your mastery.
7. Bring Fun and Fulfillment Into Your Life
Community service can be fun, whether it’s by yourself or with family and friends. By contributing to opportunities that will impact the lives of others, it makes the experience more enjoyable and builds relationships that can last a lifetime. If you are an introvert, you can easily complete opportunities from home. However, if you are an extrovert, there are plenty of in-person opportunities to help you get started.
Community Service Volunteer Opportunities on Catchafire
Sign up to become a virtual volunteer on Catchafire! Catchafire allows you to choose from 24 different cause areas and 35 skill-sets to find your perfect volunteer experience. You can support nonprofits immediately through one-hour consultation calls for specific questions and needs, or take on a longer-term project (5-50 hours) to provide support in areas like IT, finance, marketing, design, HR, and more. Whether you would like to help create an operating budget for an environment-focused organization or offer a 1-hour marketing strategy consultation, there is an array of flexible options available.
When you join Catchafire as a volunteer, you can filter volunteer opportunities by cause areas. Some of our most popular cause areas with open projects include:
- Community and Economic Development
- Diversity & Inclusion
- Health & Nutrition
- Youth Development
High-need opportunities you could find on Catchafire include nonprofits representing:
- Senior centers, which can often be lonely for residents. This is especially significant for older adults and residents that didn’t have the greatest relationship with family. With consistent volunteers visiting, it can motivate residents to build and maintain social connections. Support staff members with projects related to finance support, brand messaging, and event planning.
- Youth organizations, which can provide emotional and academic support for students and critical after-school programming, no matter where they are within the school season.
- Local and national parks, which are currently being affected by record-breaking heat waves. Environmental nonprofits need more support than ever and you could be the perfect volunteer candidate.
Engaging in community service is one of the best hobbies you could have. There are a multitude of community service benefits, both on a community level and on an individual level. It’s a feel-good activity that is a win-win on all fronts. Together, we can collaborate to make the world a better place and ensure that all community needs are met.
Interested in getting started on Catchafire? Explore volunteer opportunities that have been personalized for your unique skill set and cause areas here. You’ll be sure to experience these community service benefits firsthand!