Volunteering: A Chance To Make a Change, Inspire, and Grow

Yes, these are all valid reasons not to engage in volunteering, but the benefits that can be obtained through volunteering, far outweigh the setbacks. What’s more, you’ll be surprised at just how much employers love seeing volunteer work on CV’s, because it shows that candidates are capable of doing something for the greater good of others, without money being their driving force. You can have so much fun in the process too. Playing with fluffy animals who need a bit of love, taking care of children or the elderly when they need a friend, or meeting complete strangers and sharing stories can all give you new opportunities to engage in something exciting and meaningful!

Before we go into the rest of the benefits, have a look at some amazing options and avenues you could get stuck into!

Possible avenues and organizations you could work with:

  • National Parks or beach clean ups
    • You’ll be helping maintain clean, safe natural environments and make a positive difference to the earth. If you’re passionate about the environment take a look at The Department of Conservation to learn about how to volunteer.
  •  Food banks and the Auckland City Mission
  • Support local communities in need of food and help children go to school not feeling hungry. If you’re in Auckland you can get involved at the Auckland City Mission.
  • Local Libraries 
    • Love reading and encouraging others to indulge in books? What better way to share your enthusiasm than engaging generations in storytelling. Walk into your nearest library to see what’s happening.
  • Museums
    • Love history and culture? What better place to take care of and be involved with New Zealand’s own museums! Auckland Museum has various different volunteer roles available some of which are flexible to the time you have available.
  • Political or religious campaigns/missions
    • Depending on your own personal views, there are all sorts of organizations looking to broaden their influence through community campaigns and missions. Take a look online for political parties, community organizations, or local churches to see how you can get involved.
  • YMCA or YWCA
    • The YMCA and YWCA communities contribute time, talent, tenacity and financial support for the betterment of women and men everywhere. Do you want to help give a voice to people who are in need of a helping hand? Have a talent or skill that others could benefit from? The options are endless.
  • Retirement Homes
    • Working with and helping the elderly can be extremely rewarding and bring so much happiness into their lives. Volunteering Auckland is a great resource for opportunities like this.
  • Children’s hospitals
    • This sort of work can be emotionally and physically challenging but again, endlessly rewarding. You could make a lifelong difference in children's experiences in the hospital. Starship is a fantastic children’s hospital where you can get involved.
  • The Blind Foundation
    • Imagine being eyes for someone else and helping them experience the world in a unique way, or helping organize community events and raise awareness. You can find out more information about volunteering for the blind foundation on their website.
  • SPCA
    • Got a love of animals and want to see them be treated fairly? Every animal deserves a loving home and to be cared for - be part of that process by volunteering at the SPCA.
  • Refugee centers
    • You could get involved in ensuring new entrants into New Zealand have a positive, welcoming and safe experience. The Red Cross has volunteer opportunities where you can work with refugees.
As you can see, the possibilities are almost endless! We’ve only just touched the surface of the things you could do. When you’re much older and you look back on your life, you’ll have volunteer stories to draw upon and remember that will fill your heart with happiness. You’ll feel content that you’ve helped improve the lives of others in a special way. Let’s take a bigger look at the reasons why volunteering is an epic thing to do!

Benefits of volunteering

  • Give back to your local community
    • There are service people in all sorts of sectors in our communities who provide us with activities, opportunities, support, and safety! Wouldn’t it be cool to give back to them?
  • Build self-confidence
    • You could improve a skill or talent you already have. Every time you use these skills and talents you’ll be able to build your self-confidence and faith in your abilities.
  • Develop new skills
    • When we try new things we tend to discover something new about ourselves. You might just find a whole new life pathway you want to explore or pursue.
  • Improve your social and relationship-building skills
    • It’s easy to think we’ve got this nailed already because at university we have plenty of opportunities to socialize and build relationships - but volunteer situations are completely different because you are making a choice to mix with people you wouldn’t otherwise interact with. Through volunteering, you’ll be able to expose yourself to new avenues of conversation, new people to learn from, and new opportunities to express yourself.
  • Get outside of your comfort zone
    • If you’ve never done anything like your volunteer job, you’re making a conscious decision to grow in new ways.
  • Build empathy by gaining insights into how other people live
    • This is a given, but it’s one of the most amazing, enlightening things that can happen to you. Once you truly step into the shoes of someone else or another group of people, you’ll never look at your own life the same way again.
  • Helping those in need brings a strong sense of reward
    • You’ll feel rewarded when you see the real impact of your volunteer work. Imagine the feeling you would get if you helped make sure a child could eat healthy meals, or found a puppy a new home, or made sure the beaches in this country stayed beautiful and safe for marine life?
  • Do wonders for your mental and physical well-being
    • Some volunteer work is physical so you might be able to ditch that gym membership! You’ll also be learning a few new things, so your brain will be working out, too!
  • Help advance your career - this is a BIG thing for university graduates!!!
    • As mentioned, employers love to see that you are caring, compassionate, helpful and use your initiative.
While we’re on the subject of employers, let’s talk more about the career side of things.

Imagine you are an employer for a high-turnover business with hundreds of employees and you’re looking to hire a new person to fit the bill. Where do you begin when it comes to scanning new graduates’ CV’s? Think about it like this, most ex-students will be able to say they’re good at working in a team but are also strong solo workers, they’ve had a part-time job which shows they’re capable of working weekends and nights to get by, and they may have traveled a bit which shows they’re more worldly and have a sense of adventure. What can you do to stand out?

This is where volunteering comes in. When it comes to finding a volunteering opportunity, of course, finding something that fits in with your chosen career pathway would be wonderful. However, a barrier to break down is the idea that you must find an opportunity that is specific to your industry - because in the big scheme of things, giving up your free time to improve the wellbeing of others is valuable no matter what form that takes.

Why do employers find volunteering attractive?

Being involved in volunteer work could present a candidate as being:

  • Capable of helping others without a hidden agenda.
  • Prepared to develop their skills in different ways, a keen learner, and able to put themselves in someone else’s position.
  • Capable of leading.
  • Prepared to go the extra mile.
  • Able to organize themselves and their time to fit in with commitments.
  • Keen to continue developing their hard and soft skills.
So, have a think about the things you could do as a volunteer. When you look around, there are so many things you can get involved in that will benefit you and those in need in endless amounts of ways. What have you got to lose, or gain? It’s something your future self will thank you for.

So, what’re you waiting for? Make a difference and try something new today!

by Ellie Brambury, Auckland