Finding Your Reason For Being

Marshall Rathmell |

The concept of searching for the sweet spot of what you’re good at, what you enjoy, what the world needs and what you can get paid for is a concept often used by people searching for their first job or their next job.  This is a single-minded pursuit of finding meaning and purpose for your life through your work. The concept is sometimes called your “reason for being”.  

This is the typical approach to create a meaningful life by setting up your work to define and fulfill your meaning.

We can also use this same concept to find meaning in other places to live richer and more fulfilling lives, specifically in your volunteer activities.  

Volunteers are crucial for charities and non profits and benefit many other organizations like schools, nursing homes, medical care facilities, animal shelters, government programs and many others.  In the US, about 1/3 of American adults formally volunteer.  These volunteers spend an average of 52 hours a year volunteering. 

If you want to explore volunteering as a pursuit for your “reason”, I have some suggestions to help you get started. 

            What you are good at – there are so many ways to volunteer, you can find something you are good at.  For example, tutoring students, working at an animal shelter, volunteering at your local library, or offering your professional services to an organization. 

            What you enjoy – if you are a people person, you can meet people you would not otherwise meet.  Working as a team with others reaching a goal is a rewarding feeling.  Helping a cause and improving your community is a bigger goal than the work you have contributed. 

            What the world needs – the vast number of volunteer opportunities are there because the world needs them to be fulfilled.  A weekend meal for a student, an opportunity to raise funds to cure cancer, guiding a tour at the botanical gardens and just the encouraging words from someone who believe in them are all essential for a better world. 

            What you can get paid for – well volunteering is not a paying job, but many volunteers report they have developed people skills that made them better employees. They have met new friends who gave them a recommendation for a new job.  They have met a mentor who stayed in touch with them long after the volunteer work ended and who changed their future.  Unemployed volunteers are more likely to find work than non-volunteers.  Keep reading, you may be able to add project management to your resume as a volunteer.

After thinking about your “reason”, let’s consider what volunteering contributes to your community and the world.

It is estimated that volunteers contribute nearly $200,000,000,000 (yes, that’s $200B) in value to US communities. 

Hunger and homelessness causes are the most supported in the US, with about 15% of volunteers working in these areas.  Even if hunger and homelessness cannot be solved, it can make a tremendous difference for the person who gets a meal tonight or a safe place to sleep.

There is a gap to fill, and volunteering is even more essential since the pandemic, as about 11% of volunteer organizations ceased their operations. 

Three-quarters (75%) of the population say the importance of volunteering has increased post-pandemic. 

80% of nonprofits need improved project management processes to maximize the value of the volunteers.

100% of nonprofits rely on volunteers! 

Volunteering is a valuable activity and an important part of post-pandemic recovery for individuals and communities.  Volunteering is a great way to benefit others while you are also benefiting yourself.  Build your volunteer portfolio and watch the benefits that follow.

If you are already volunteering, we thank you for serving.