October 28, 2013
Many nonprofits rely heavily on volunteers not only to administer services but to help run day-to-day operations. And for many nonprofits there is little more they can offer volunteers than their gratitude and perhaps a free lunch.
However, according to a study by Harris Interactive for UnitedHealth Group, nonprofits give back more to their volunteers than they know. The survey of 3,351 adults found that individuals who volunteer report better levels of physical, emotional and mental health than those who do not. Volunteers also reported feeling a deeper connection to their communities and were more informed health care consumers. They were also more engaged in taking care of their own health.
Benefits for employers of volunteers
The study found that philanthropy benefited businesses as well, both those that facilitated volunteer activities and those that hired employees who give their time and services to nonprofits.
"Employees who volunteer also bring more refined job skills to the workplace which provides a significant benefit to their employer," the study states. "Functional job competencies such as marketing, management, or finance skills are honed through volunteer experiences. Volunteering by definition requires strong people and teamwork skills as well as the ability to manage time effectively. Both of those skill categories are in high demand in the workplace."
Volunteers who are out of work may also find that their philanthropy could give their resume a boost. CNN Money cited a 2011 LinkedIn survey which found 41 percent of hiring managers consider volunteer experience as valuable as paid work.
Volunteer work shows hiring managers that workers are motivated and loyal. For workers that have a hard time finding jobs during a recession, skill-based volunteerism can look especially appealing on a resume. Volunteering can help unemployed workers keep their skills sharp and their attitude positive.
Many workplace skills are also improved during volunteer work, such as relationships with colleagues, time management, teamwork and other professional skills. Philanthropic activities are also embraced as large company initiatives to give back the community while bringing coworkers closer together.
While many volunteers may not be fully aware of the self-benefit they receive – and most willing to help despite it – nonprofits can take some solace in knowing that all that hard work does not go unrewarded.
Content presented by First Nonprofit Companies, the leading provider of state unemployment insurance solutions for 501(c)(3) nonprofit employers.
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