There are 1.4 million non-profit organizations registered as charities in the United States, or approximately 1 for every 300 people, according to a 2009 article by Paul Lamb that appeared in The Christian Science Monitor. While this may seem an inordinately large number, the recession is putting more pressure on community services than ever before which, in turn, is providing an increasing number of charity work opportunities for volunteers. Whether you have a job or are looking to gain new skills before going back into the work force, there are ten top reasons why charity work is good for everyone.
#1 Charity Work Can Help Others Learn
Do you have skills that you take for granted? You can teach parents how to cook nutritious meals and reduce their food expenses. Better yet, teach the basics of nutrition to families and help teenagers learn to cook. These skills will last a lifetime and provide health benefits, too.
Charity work for volunteers who can teach teenagers and adults new career skills is always in demand. You may take your technical savvy for granted, but when you start to show someone how to use a spreadsheet to do a family budget, or how to improve typing abilities, you are giving another the very skills necessary to land and maintain a job.
#2 Charity Work Can Give You a New Perspective
Working with at-risk youth who may be most susceptible to harm in these economic times will certainly give you perspective. Budget cuts are hitting public schools in nearly every state as teachers face yet another year of layoff notices. Non-profit organizations that serve elementary, middle school and high school students need all the volunteers they can get as they strive to provide a continuity of service for parents and their children. These organizations not have charity work opportunities for those willing to tutor in math, English, science and history, but also need help with events and fund raising to keep up with demand.
#3 Charity Work Teaches Humility
Volunteer one day a week to take notes for a college student, who happens to be in a wheelchair, and you will be inspired by her. Observe the drive and motivation she brings forth to meet her daily challenges, and you learn humility.
Teach a third grader to read smoothly and with expression. Watch his face as he grasps what you tell him in an Oh, now I get it ah-ha moment. This young student will also teach you humility.
#4 Charity Work Can Inspire Others
When Jennifer Goodman Lin, a cancer survivor who was treated at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, started Cycle for Survival in New York in 2007, she could not imagine how it would grow in just four years. Her personal story and fund raising program to fight rare cancers inspired so many people to get involved that indoor cycling teams in 2011 took part from Chicago, San Francisco and other satellite locations.
#5 In Charity Work, You Can Learn a New Skill
If you are a member of a team organizing fund raising events for a local community organization, you learn to work on a team toward a common goal. Once mastered, the ability to understand and fulfill your role and communicate effectively with others to accomplish a project stays with you. Being an effective member of a team is a learned skill that will benefit you in any position you hold, be it salaried or volunteer.
#6 Charity Work Lets You Give Back to the Community
Working with a non-profit organization that serves a segment of the local population offers a unique opportunity to give back to the community in which you have lived and worked. While donations to a charity given over the internet make their way into certain community sectors, there is an anonymity to the giving. However, when you become involved in Special Olympics, Head Start or Meals on Wheels, you make a personal connection with a person you are directly assisting.
#7 Charity Work Lets You Experience Something Larger Than Yourself
The longer your association with a cause, the more you come to realize the extend of the need and the enormous commitment made by volunteers and staff. Some would argue that altruism is a myth because human beings are not capable of giving without expecting something in return. That cynicism is quickly dismissed as false by anyone who has planned a marathon or rebuilt a home after a hurricane or donated a wedding gown to Brides Against Breast Cancer. In each of these three situations, the people involved know that their contributions are an echo of a much larger cause. Each is humbled, inspired and satisfied all at once.
#8 Charity Work Teaches the Significance of a Simple Gesture
In the haste to get through all of the pressing priorities of the day at work or school and home, it is commonplace to forget about giving others the appreciation they deserve. However, when you are teaching a fourth-grade student to write, you focus on her. She shows you her latest essay; you do not hesitate to give her encouragement, saying great job and smiling. That simple gesture may do more for the student than anything she has received in the last week. The lesson, though, is to be better at recognizing others who touch your life outside of the volunteer position.
#9 Charity Work Rewards Last Longer Than Cash
At the risk of sounding like a cliche, it is true that by giving we receive. The more we are able to give of our talents, skills and time to a cause in which we believe, the more others will connect with us. These connections in all their forms and complexity enrich our lives for the duration.
#10 Charity Workers Experience Synchronicity
The term synchronicity was created by Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychologist, and in laymans terms it is defined as two or more experiences happening simultaneously that have meaning for the person experiences them. All previous nine reasons to do charity work form a synchronicity. At the time you are performing the work, though, you may not relate one new skill learned or reward received to your volunteer position. Over time, as you continue to volunteer you will discover the power of synchronicity for yourself.