Is volunteering truly a free service?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines free as “something given or available without charge.”
Volunteers are excited to give. They’re motivated, talented, and make themselves available to you at no charge. They willingly give you their hearts and minds to help you achieve your mission to make the world a better place. On a fundamental level, however, volunteering time and talent makes people feel good. The experience can fulfill a vital social connection, nourish a sense of purpose, and encourage individuals to tap into something larger than themselves.
However, volunteers’ intentions don’t have to be wholly altruistic – sometimes, a volunteer’s motivation is professional in nature. Through the experience, they’re able to develop new skills and advance their careers. By accessing their skills to support your organizational goals everybody wins.
Yet, is this infusion of goodwill and talent really free?
Like the proverbial free lunch, it is not. Instead, it’s an exchange grounded in a mutually beneficial experience for both the volunteers and your organization. As part of this exchange, volunteers offer their time, energy, and abilities for an experience that produces a change in them. Psychologists have even coined the phrase “helper’s high” to describe a euphoric feeling that arises after performing a kind act. In exchange for the influx of talent, a nonprofit offers volunteers a potentially game-changing experience.