Impacts of Volunteer Work


People generally have an innate need to be of help in their communities. And any people need help. How can volunteering fill both needs?

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill

People generally have an innate need to be of help in their communities and alleviate the needs of others. Although there is much-needed assistance in our country and worldwide, we may not all be able to travel as much as we would want to volunteer where we are needed. However, we can all give to those around us. Volunteering starts by doing kind deeds freely towards those around us, so we all have a daily chance to volunteer on a small scale. So let’s talk about volunteering, its benefits, and its impacts. 


What is Volunteering?

Volunteer work is work done by an individual who freely offers their time and energy to a cause. The word volunteer is borrowed from the French word ‘voluntaire’, meaning “of one’s own accord.” Although volunteering does not usually include any payment for the services offered, some volunteer programs provide compensation to cover some of the volunteers’ personal expenditures. 

Prominent organizations that started out as volunteer groups include the YMCA and The Red Cross, as the two world wars attracted numerous volunteers during their 4-year durations. While volunteers receive nothing in return for their services, the popularity of volunteerism over the years has brought on rising numbers of for-profit organizations connecting causes and volunteers. 

Kinds of Volunteer Work

When thinking of volunteering, the typical image that comes to mind is a citizen of a developed country coming to developing countries and disadvantaged communities, often to help kids in orphanages. While this is considered social volunteering, there are environmental, social, and healthcare, along with tourism-related volunteer jobs. Some travel across the world to volunteer at animal shelters and wildlife sanctuaries. You can always choose the area that interests you the most to keep yourself interested and motivated.  

The Benefits of Volunteering

Volunteering has many advantages – especially for young people. Helping and giving to others gives joy and fulfillment. Volunteers have a better standing with employers and gain experiences that increase their chances of employment. Some people volunteer as a way to travel with minimal costs. Volunteering gives young people a broader world context and helps their personal growth and development.  

Volunteering can have many positive impacts on communities as well. Often, volunteers bring the necessary skills that are needed but not available within the community. The money collected from volunteers can also be a good funding source for the nonprofits and the projects they run.

The Negative Impacts

When profit is involved, greed enters the scene. Many organizations pose to be helping disadvantaged communities to collect funds from those eager to help. When disaster strikes, many organizations swoop in and exploit the already desperate communities to profit from the aid. Organizations sometimes neglect the actual problems of the community to align their narrative to the stories that volunteers would most likely be interested in.  

Volunteers might be distracted by the benefits the activity brings for themselves and their resumes and lose sight of the real need at hand. Some arrive at the volunteer stations intending to collect resume score points rather than a genuine desire to help. At times, many young people fresh out of school take up volunteer programs where their skill and maturity levels would be mismatched to the needs of the community or environment they arrived to volunteer.

How do you volunteer the right way?

Check your intentions. Why do you want to volunteer? What goals do you plan to achieve? Will you be of any practical help to the cause? Do you have enough skills to do the necessary work on the ground? If not, will you receive training on arrival?

There are many opportunities to volunteer in Ethiopia in different sectors like teaching, healthcare, child care, etc. International organizations like the Red Cross and Rotary International also have branches in the country, taking in local volunteers.  


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