Going out and volunteering sounds simple, but many people don’t volunteer because they don’t know where to start.”

Mark Foster, Musician

Pros and Cons of Volunteering

advantages and disadvantages of volunteering

Volunteering is an altruistic activity where people use their time in order to benefit other people or organizations without getting financial compensation. Volunteering has become quite popular and offers many important advantages.

Yet, there are also some issues related to volunteering. The pros and cons of volunteering are examined in the following.

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Advantages of Volunteering

  1. Many different areas of volunteering
  2. You can learn a lot through volunteering
  3. Volunteering can help you mature in character
  4. Better impression regarding what you want to do with your life
  5. You can make many new friends
  6. You learn how to work in a group
  7. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to join a strong network
  8. Can look good at your résumé
  9. You get a broader perspective on life
  10. Usually lower stress levels compared to a normal job
  11. You can volunteer abroad
  12. High level of inner motivation to help others
  13. Can be much more fulfilling compared to a normal job
  14. Flexibility regarding time commitment
  15. You can explore new cultures
  16. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to give something back
  17. Can help to reduce the labor shortage in some professions
  18. You can learn empathy towards other people
  19. Volunteering can turn into a regular job after some time
  20. People will often be really grateful for your volunteering work
  21. You will value your own life much more afterward
  22. Volunteering helps you to learn responsibility
  23. Volunteering can help us to mitigate our environmental problems

Many different areas of volunteering

One important advantage of volunteering is that there are almost unlimited different fields from which you can choose from, depending on your individual wishes and preferences. Therefore, for almost everyone out there, there will be a volunteering opportunity that matches his or her interests.

It has also become quite easy in our current state of the world to find volunteering opportunities since you can just use the internet and search engines and will get plenty of helpful results in just a few seconds.

Hence, everyone who claims that there are no suitable volunteering opportunities for them should research a little bit more. I am sure you will find some if you really want to! 😉

You can learn a lot through volunteering

Volunteering also gives you the opportunity to really expand your knowledge in the respective field. This can be great, especially in case you also plan to get a job in a similar area afterward. Apart from the hard skills you will learn, you will also learn how to interact with people and how to treat them with respect.

This is also quite important for your later life since if you get good at understanding people, you will have a much higher chance to succeed in various parts of your later life.

Volunteering can help you mature in character

Another benefit of volunteering is that you can really grow in character over time. Especially if you do your volunteering in poor developing countries, you will see under which conditions people have to live there. Moreover, you will also recognize how hard people have to work in order just to survive in those regions.

All this will really make you a different person who will be much more aware of the struggles that some people have to go through in life. In turn, you will be able to put your own problems in context and will realize that many people all over the world have it much worse than you.

Better impression regarding what you want to do with your life

Volunteering can also help you to realize what you really want to do with your life. Many people, especially when they are young, struggle to find a real purpose in life. They often choose to go for an office job that pays well, yet they hate to get up in the morning and are always looking forward to the weekend.

In my opinion, this is a great waste of time and people should rather follow their passions. However, in order to figure out what your passion really is, volunteering can help you in this regard since you will have the opportunity to do many different things and will also often have enough leisure to think about your life.

You can make many new friends

Through volunteering, you will also be able to make many new friends. Chances are that you will be able to meet many like-minded people who are eager to help others and this common trait will be a key driver to make friendships for a lifetime.

Thus, especially if you just moved to a new area or don’t have too many friends due to various other reasons, chances are that you can find many new friends through volunteering.

You learn how to work in a group

Working in a group is another important skill which you will often need later on in your life. In many professions, group work is on a regular basis and if you want to be successful in a corporate career, you have to learn how to deal with different people and different opinions.

Volunteering can be a great way to learn this skill since you will often interact with many different people and can also learn to resolve possible conflicts.

Volunteering gives you the opportunity to join a strong network

Many volunteering programs also offer you the opportunity to stay in touch with your former colleagues. Most people will work in regular jobs after they finished their volunteering and therefore, if you have many connections from your volunteering career, you will also have connections to many people who work in many different companies.

In turn, it will often be much easier to get into those companies since you already know a person who can connect you to his or her boss and facilitate the job interview process for you.

Can look good at your résumé

Many employers often value your volunteering work quite a lot and volunteering can also look really good on your résumé. In fact, your chances to get a decent job can greatly increase due to your volunteering work.

Hence, also if you just want to improve your chances to get a good job in big corporations, volunteering can also greatly help you in this regard.

You get a broader perspective on life

If you engage in volunteering activities, you can also get a much broader perspective on life. It is shocking to me how many adults still act like children and have a quite narrow view of the world.

If you want to really learn about life and about all the possibilities which it offers to you, volunteering can really help you since you can try many different things, learn and really figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life instead of just pursuing a corporate job which you will most often hate after just a few years.

Usually lower stress levels compared to a normal job

Most volunteering jobs are also less stressful compared to a normal corporate job. This can be quite beneficial, especially for your people who are often not able to deal with significant stress in a proper and calm manner.

Hence, volunteering can be great after you finished college in order to get some work experience without having to jump into the cold water of a demanding corporate job yet.

Therefore, if you don’t feel to be ready for a real job yet, volunteering can also be a great way to learn some skills, boost your confidence and work in a job that pays you money later on.

You can volunteer abroad

Volunteering also gives you the great opportunity to travel and spend some time abroad. Many organizations offer you the opportunity to work in poor countries all over the world. Even though the overall living conditions will be much poorer on average, you will still make many priceless experiences that really shape your character and which will also make you much stronger from the inside.

Thus, if you have the opportunity to volunteer abroad, I would definitely recommend that you go for it for a few weeks or months. You will come back as a different person, who will be much more aware of how the world really looks like.

High level of inner motivation to help others

Since you will see how people have to live in poor countries all over the world, you will also feel an inner obligation to help those people. You can do so by volunteering, but you will also carry this attitude towards life back home.

In turn, it will become much more likely that you will donate money or that you continue to do some part-time volunteering work in the future in order to help those people who are often not able to help themselves.

Can be much more fulfilling compared to a normal job

Another upside of volunteering is that it can also be much more fulfilling compared to working in a regular corporate job. In those office jobs, you will often feel quite demotivated since you will not really see the end result of your efforts. Moreover, quite often, chances are that you will also not care too much about the company goals.

In contrast, if you go volunteering, chances are that you will feel much more fulfilled since you can really help people with their problems and can make a significant change in the lives of those people.

Flexibility regarding time commitment

Many volunteering institutions will also give you the opportunity to work flexible hours. This is especially true if you volunteer in areas that do not have strict deadlines and where it doesn’t really matter if you do your work today or tomorrow.

This gives you a great level of flexibility and you could even work in a regular part-time job in order to cover your expenses while still volunteering for an organization at the same time.

You can explore new cultures

In case you go volunteering abroad, you will also have the unique chance to explore new cultures. Quite often, you will work hand in hand with locals and thus, you will really get to know each other. In turn, you will get to know different cultural values and will also realize how relative cultural values and social norms really are.

Volunteering gives you the opportunity to give something back

You might not have realized it yet, but if you are borne in the rich Western world and are a healthy person, you have already won the lottery. There are billions of people out there who would do anything to be in your position.

Hence, since you had been so lucky, volunteering also gives you a great opportunity to give something back to people who had not been that lucky.

In fact, many people feel an inner obligation to give back something to our global society and volunteering can be a great way to do so.

Can help to reduce the labor shortage in some professions

In some job markets, many countries suffer from a serious shortage of workers. For instance, in many countries, there are not enough nurses or caregivers. If this is the case in the area you live in, you can also do our society a great favor by volunteering in these fields so that the problem of labor shortage in those areas can be mitigated to a certain extent.

You can learn empathy towards other people

Through volunteering, you can also learn great levels of empathy towards others. Many young people don’t realize how good they really have it in life and that there are so many other people out there who will never have similar opportunities.

If you volunteer and work in professions that let you talk to those people who really struggle in life, chances are that you will learn a much higher level of compassion, which is also quite important for our society as a whole.

Volunteering can turn into a regular job after some time

If you do your work properly, chances are that you will also be able to get a regular paid job after you finished your volunteering. Especially if you enjoyed your volunteering time quite a lot, this can be really beneficial for you since you can work in a job you really like while making sufficient money at the same time from your passion.

People will often be really grateful for your volunteering work

People will often also show great levels of appreciation for your volunteering work. Many people don’t take your volunteering for granted and if you help them with their problems, chances are that those people will be really grateful. Hence, you will also get a great feeling since you know that you did something that has value to other people.

You will value your own life much more afterward

Volunteering often implies to get in touch with people who have to deal with great challenges in their lives. Especially if you go volunteering abroad, you will see under which poor conditions many people have to live and chances are that you will value your life back home much more once you lived a similar life for a while.

Volunteering helps you to learn responsibility

Many young people also lack a sense of responsibility. They often let their parents do all of the work in the household and also expect their parents to guide them. However, this is not a healthy attitude towards life since at some point in time, you have to learn to stand on your own feet, to make your own decisions and to live with the consequences.

Volunteering can give you the opportunity to really learn to take on responsibility and to really grow in character, which is quite important for success in various parts of your life.

Volunteering can help us to mitigate our environmental problems

Through volunteering, you can also help to solve our environmental problems. Especially if you volunteer in professions which aim to protect our planet, you can raise the awareness of people regarding how important it is to make a change as soon as possible in order to assure a livable future for the next generations.

Disadvantages of Volunteering

  1. You don’t earn money while volunteering
  2. Volunteering abroad can be expensive
  3. Many volunteers have too high expectations
  4. Volunteering abroad means to leave your partner at home
  5. Some volunteering organizations are quite dodgy
  6. Volunteering abroad may lead to homesickness
  7. Confrontation with reality may shock some kids
  8. You may lose motivation for volunteering
  9. Volunteering abroad can be dangerous
  10. Also volunteering can be real work
  11. You make a certain commitment
  12. May not be suitable if you already have kids
  13. You will be older when you finally get a job
  14. People may have trouble to go back to their normal lives
  15. Lack of organization may lead to chaos
  16. Requirements in the work world may shock volunteers afterward
  17. Dependence on volunteers is dangerous

You don’t earn money while volunteering

Apart from the numerous benefits of volunteering, there are also some downsides to the concept. One problem with volunteering is that you will not get paid. This can be a big disadvantage, especially if you already moved out of your parents’ home and have to pay rent or have to cover additional expenses.

In such a case, volunteering can lead to serious financial problems and in such a case, you should look out for volunteering opportunities that at least provide you with sleeping opportunities and board so that you don’t have to pay too much out of your own pocket during this time.

Volunteering abroad can be expensive

Especially if you volunteer abroad, you often have to pay significant amounts of money for it. You will have to pay for your flights and often also for your accommodation.

Moreover, there will also be some administration costs for the company which organizes this sort of international volunteering.

Hence, make sure that you can afford volunteering abroad before you decide to go for it.

Many volunteers have too high expectations

Another disadvantage of volunteering is that many volunteers simply have far too high expectations regarding the true impact they have for the respective project. Many volunteers want to change the world and when they finally realize how hard it actually is to make just small differences, many of them become quite frustrated.

Therefore, make sure that you also have a realistic attitude towards volunteering in order to avoid significant disappointments when you will be confronted with the reality of the world.

Volunteering abroad means to leave your partner at home

If you are currently in a relationship, chances are that volunteering may also lead to some problems. Your partner will not like that you will be away for an extended period of time and many relationships even end due to that. Therefore, make sure that your volunteering is really worth it for you to leave your partner behind.

Some volunteering organizations are quite dodgy

Even though most volunteering organizations are trustworthy, there are still some organizations out there that are rather dodgy and you should inform yourself about the different organizations in order to find a reputable one so that your volunteering time will be as pleasant and informative as possible.

Volunteering abroad may lead to homesickness

If you want to volunteer abroad, you may also suffer from serious homesickness over time. This is especially true for people who never spent an extensive period away from their homes. Hence, if you belong to this group, volunteering abroad may not be the best way to go for you and you may want to volunteer in your home area instead.

Confrontation with reality may shock some kids

Another downside of volunteering is that it might be quite shocking for young people to be confronted with the reality of the world. For instance, if you volunteer in a third-world country, chances are that you will be quite shocked regarding how people have to live in those countries. Moreover, you will also miss the many amenities which you have back home.

You may lose motivation for volunteering

Some people will also lose their motivation for volunteering over time. Many people are quite motivated at the beginning, yet their level of motivation drops quite quickly. This is often due to the fact that volunteers do similar jobs like normal workers, but don’t get paid for it at all.

Hence, many people may become quite frustrated over time and may leave their volunteering profession quite soon after they started.

Volunteering abroad can be dangerous

If you want to volunteer in a poor developing country abroad, make sure that it is actually safe to do so. In many parts of our planet, there are still serious conflicts going on and especially for young people, it is often hard to assess the situation in a proper manner, which can lead to serious trouble for you in the long run.

Also volunteering can be real work

Many people also think about volunteering as a part-time job or even as some sort of vacation. The truth is that volunteering jobs can be quite demanding and quite often, they are not much less exhausting than normal jobs. Consequently, if you search for an opportunity to relax, volunteering may not be the right way to go for you.

You make a certain commitment

If you decide for volunteering, you often also sign a contract that aims to assure that you will volunteer in your field for a certain period of time. After you signed the contract, you will often be obliged to fulfill this contract and therefore, you also make a certain commitment. Hence, make sure that you really want to volunteer in a certain profession before you sign those sorts of contracts.

May not be suitable if you already have kids

Some people also have kids at a rather young age. In case you already have kids, volunteering will likely also not be for you since you have to take care of your kid and also have to make money somehow.

You will be older when you finally get a job

Some people also claim that volunteering is a waste of time since you will be older when you finally enter the workforce. Hence, if you are one of those people who are really centered around their career and want to get into the workforce as soon as possible, volunteering may also not be the right way to go for you.

People may have trouble to go back to their normal lives

As I stated before, volunteering has the ability to really change people. Even though this can be quite beneficial for character development and to get a broader perspective on life in general, volunteering can also lead to trouble for people to go back to their normal lives.

In fact, many people will lose their motivation to work in boring corporate jobs when they realize how much the world really has to offer. Thus, some volunteers may also have difficulties to get back into our system after they come back.

Lack of organization may lead to chaos

Some volunteering organizations are also organized quite poorly and if you work for one of those institutions, chances are that your volunteering profession will be characterized by high levels of chaos. Hence, make sure to check out reviews so that you can choose the best volunteering organization in order to avoid any trouble.

Requirements in the work world may shock volunteers afterward

If you work as a volunteer in a field that is not that demanding, you may also be quite shocked if you join the workforce afterward. Especially if you switch from volunteering to a demanding corporate career, chances are that you will feel quite overwhelmed since those jobs can be much more demanding.

Thus, volunteering can also give you a flawed perception regarding what will be expected from you in your future work life.

Dependence on volunteers is dangerous

Also for organizations that rely on volunteers, this concept is quite dangerous. If those organizations are heavily reliant on volunteers to do the work, there will be serious trouble in case there will no longer be enough volunteers due to various reasons.

Hence, the dependence on volunteers should be rather limited in order to avoid unpleasant worker shortages in the long run.

Top 10 Volunteering Pros & Cons – Summary List

Volunteering ProsVolunteering Cons
Volunteering can expand your horizonVolunteering abroad can be quite expensive
Volunteering can help to increase empathySome people are not prepared for reality
Being a volunteer can look good on the résuméMany volunteers have too high expectations
You can find friends for lifeVolunteering can be real work
Volunteering can help you value your life moreVolunteering can be mentally exhausting
You can learn group workTrouble to get back to normal life
You may be able to volunteer abroadSome organizations are rather dodgy
More fulfilling compared to a normal jobYou make a certain commitment
Volunteering can turn into a real passionYou may get frustrated over time
Can help to solve our environmental problemsCan be difficult if you have a partner

Should You Volunteer?

As we have seen before, there are many advantages and disadvantages to volunteering. In my opinion, the pros of volunteering outweigh the cons and if you can financially afford it, I would definitely recommend that you volunteer for a certain period of time in order to grow in character and to figure out what you really want to do with your life.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volunteering

https://www.networkforgood.org/volunteer/volunteertips.aspx

https://www.volunteersarnia.com/top-10-volunteering-tips/

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.

As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.

After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.

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