Volunteering is about the spirit of giving; finding ways to contribute by helping others. It also involves working with others to make these meaningful contributions for the betterment of our society as a whole. The intangible benefits alone—such as pride, satisfaction, and accomplishment—are worthwhile reasons to serve. But perhaps the greatest benefit people get from volunteering is the satisfaction that comes from incorporating service into their lives and making a difference in the lives of others.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the volunteer rate in the United States holds at approximately 25 percent each year. How can we impact those numbers? The loss prevention community is making efforts to make these numbers more significant—and more impactful to individuals and families across the country and the world.
As part of this poll question, we asked: Do you actively serve as a volunteer, or support other charitable causes in any way?
Overwhelmingly, our respondents echoed the importance of volunteering and their willingness to participate, with 96% of participants stating that they offer their time, services, and other resources to help others.
People volunteer for an endless variety of reasons. Many want to gain experience, acquire new skills, and meet new people. Others just want to give back to their community, help a friend or promote a worthwhile activity. They do it because it gives them a sense of pride, satisfaction, and meaning.
For those that aren’t currently involved in some type of volunteer efforts, it’s often because they feel that their lives are currently too full. They feel that they simply don’t have the time, or energy, or personal resources to contribute. But it doesn’t always take extraordinary efforts to make a real and lasting difference.
This is the intrinsic value of volunteering. It can’t always be measured in terms of dollars, or hours, or other tangible quantifiers. While some may like to look at it in these terms, we simply can’t measure the value in this way.
Volunteers are the most important resource that many community organizations have, helping to build organizational strength and stability. That strength not only comes from growing and enhancing programs, but also from the sense of ownership that is gained as advocates for the program. They add credibility and extend the resources of an organization. They can offer valuable input. They provide the hands that enable organizations to accomplish tasks and activities that might not otherwise get done. Yet while what we put in might be vitally important, what we get out of it can mean so much more.
The image of the volunteer has changed over time. However, the need for willing volunteers is an ongoing challenge for many community organizations, especially for organizations dedicated to helping those in need. We encourage you to help in any way that you can. Sometimes the results can be more meaningful than anything that you might expect.
Please watch the following video released by The National Retail Federation by clicking on the image below. Hopefully this will give you a better feel as to what a difference our efforts can make in the lives of others:
This article was first published in 2015 and updated in April 2016.