I work for a company with a very proactive and robust volunteer program for its employees, challenging us to volunteer two million hours annually across the nation. Being the chair for this employee volunteer program here in San Diego.
I’ve seen firsthand the impact that volunteerism has in our community along with those who benefit from the output as well as those who do the actual work. Indeed, in a busy world like ours, volunteers create connections, change lives, and enrich their own lives at the same time.
With National Volunteer Month upon us, now is a great time to recognize the time and commitment invested by volunteers — and even make the leap on your part and volunteer in San Diego.
It’s easy to recognize the external impact that volunteerism has on people and communities but there are many internal benefits as well. Research shows that volunteerism can boost confidence and social skills leading to stronger relationships and a greater sense of fulfillment. Perhaps that is why more than 62 million people volunteered at least once between September 2014 and September 2015.
In addition, studies like the one in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine have found that people who volunteer are happier with their work-life balance.
This is why many companies encourage volunteerism among employees and implement programs and policies that support the passion and commitment of employee volunteers. For example, my employer, Bank of America, offers its workforce up to two hours a week of paid volunteer time during work hours to encourage volunteerism, along with offering some grant funding at organizations where we volunteer regularly. It’s a rewarding, meaningful way to help others, while building skills or putting expertise toward a good cause.
In fact, April is Bank of America’s Global Service Month for its employees and we’re celebrating by donating time at two “I Love A Clean San Diego” cleanup events and were also making welcome cards for children and families at the Ronald McDonald House, among several additional volunteer efforts throughout the month.So if you’re looking to spring into volunteerism this month, there are several different ways for you to get involved.
Utilize your skills. Don’t forget that many nonprofits are always looking for valuable volunteers who have personal talents or professional skills. For example, Feeding America may need assistance at their facility and Habitat for Humanity may need people who are handy with tools to help with home builds. And remember, board service with a nonprofit is a valuable way to share your expertise, from financial skills to communications, in order to address needs in your community.
Learn more about your workplace policies and opportunities. Ask your company if it is planning any volunteer activities in the upcoming months and if not, offer to coordinate one! Remind your company of all the great benefits of volunteering and ask about any special programs that it may have for employees who volunteer. In addition, if your company is a specialized industry, see if it could provide its services pro bono to a nonprofit.
For example, Bank of America volunteers provide financial coaching and mentoring in schools and nonprofits to help teach better money habits that lead to long-term success.
Let’s take this month to recognize those who volunteer and motivate others to join the effort to help our community thrive.
Sarah Krupp, is an Encinitas resident and San Diego market chair of Bank of America Community Volunteers.