Volunteering your time to help out people, animals or other organizations is beneficial to you and your community. Individuals choose to volunteer for many reasons. There are a variety of  benefits to volunteering that can make it an advantageous activity for you and your neighborhood.

Impacted community

Arguably the most important benefit of volunteering is that you make your community a better place. One small task can really make a difference, whether that’s serving a warm meal to a homeless person, performing manual labor to help out a nonprofit or giving a rescue dog a bath. By helping out in your community, you can make someone smile, help them accomplish an overwhelming task or take some of the stress of the day away. Giving back strengthens your ties to your community and can be a rewarding experience for everyone involved.

Improved health

Not only does volunteering benefit the well-being of your community but it’s also favorable to your health. Volunteering is linked to a strengthened immune system, stress reduction, decreased anger and anxiety, and improved brain function. The act of giving also lowers your risk of depression, disease and dementia. Helping and working with others leads to a longer life and better overall health, mentally and physically.

Enhanced mood

Studies have shown that helping others makes you happy, increases your self-confidence and boosts your overall psychological well-being. By giving to others or offering a helping hand, you feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in your role in the community. If struggling with a loss, such as a death in the family, volunteering can give you a sense of purpose and can help give life new meaning and direction in a difficult time.

Strengthened connections

Being actively engaged in volunteerism efforts around your community connects you to others and broadens your support network. Through giving, you’re able to strengthen your social network and find other like-minded individuals to connect with on a regular basis. Not only can you meet new people, cultivate new relationships and practice your social skills but you can strengthen existing relationships by participating in a shared task together. Giving back to your local community doesn’t have to be done solo. Social interaction while volunteering can help form stronger bonds and more powerful attachments with those around you.

Learned skills

If you are trying to initiate a change in career, volunteering can help you acquire experience in your area of interest. Not only can you practice important skills directly related to your industry but you also have the opportunity to learn or expand upon essential workplace skills such as teamwork, communication, leadership, problem solving and people skills. Even though it’s an unpaid gig, it’s well worth it, as many volunteer opportunities provide extensive training.

Advanced career

Recruiters rank volunteer participation higher than personal presentation and spelling and grammar errors when looking at a candidate’s social presence. If you are attempting to climb the corporate ladder or advance in your industry, volunteering can expose you to internships and professional organizations that could help enhance your résumé.

Whether it’s a long-term commitment or a one-time opportunity, there are countless ways that volunteering is beneficial. You can find volunteer opportunities at local organizations, museums, hospitals, churches or other nonprofits. Sign up to give back and be part of something bigger than yourself.