Whether you’re collecting canned goods for a local food drive or using your computer expertise to develop a new website for an international nonprofit, your time spent volunteering is critical for your community and those in need. But did you know you can actually save by volunteering?
Helping out and lifting up others, of course, is why most of us give of our time. According to Independent Sector, a coalition of nonprofits and related programs, 63 million Americans volunteer about 8 billion hours of their time each year to improve the world around them. Altogether, according to the group’s 2018 report, they contribute $197.5 billion worth of volunteer time to the country.
For volunteers, there are other benefits beyond the immediate satisfaction of time well spent. In fact, you can save by volunteering -- and build up your skills -- which could ultimately put more cash in your own pocket.
Spend less on vacation
You may need to get yourself to the ultimate destination, but, through many programs, you can exchange your volunteer hours for free room and board.
The National Park Service offers free lodging to some volunteers through a variety of programs. Search for opportunities through Volunteer.gov. And International Volunteer HQ has other volunteer vacations, including for families.
Get free stuff
Tickets to festivals, concerts, museums, sporting events and more can really add up … unless you volunteer. Many venues and organizations offer free tickets and cover registration fees for people who are willing to spend a little time helping to set up an event, keep it running or break it down when it’s all over.
After all, a festival might need help posting signs. A concert venue might need help taking tickets. And an obstacle course might need you for clean up.
If there’s a particular event that you really want to attend -- or a venue that seems to host all the shows you want to go to -- find out if volunteer options are available.
Practice new skills
Not every volunteer stacks canned food or takes part in some other easy or mundane task. Groups need volunteers with all kinds of abilities. Volunteering can provide the perfect opportunity for you to hone your own career skills and eventually boost your paycheck.
Hope to move into social media management? Offer to build and grow the social media presence for your neighborhood animal shelter.
Dream of working as an event planner? Help your local soup kitchen plan their next fundraiser.
Interested in working with kids? Consider volunteering through your kids’ school’s PTA or with a local after-school program.
Once you’ve gained some experience, add it to your resume and use those skills to secure your next job or promotion.
Pay less at the doctor
It’s true! Studies show giving back can actually make you healthier.
When you socialize with other people, including volunteering, researchers say you could live longer, enjoy better physical and mental health, and even have a lower risk of dementia, according to Psychology Today. And that means less time at the doctor.
Of course, most of us don’t volunteer for our own benefit, but if we can save by volunteering,it is nice to know that when we help others, we help ourselves a little bit too.
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