"My company is holding a volunteer event . . . do I have to go?"
Volunteering isn’t just a win-win for your company. By taking part in your company's corporate social responsibility program, these volunteer activities can help you develop as an employee—and as a person. But it’s up to you to make it work to your benefit.
By adapting a company's sense of responsibility toward its community and environment into your career, you can build your brand, network with like-minded individuals, and even improve your health.
Here's how giving back can help your community, as well as your career:
Volunteering makes a company’s brand shine.
You can: Build your own brand. You will build your own self-esteem by volunteering. This buoys your spirit and energizes you to give more at work, and in your personal life as well. It’s like sprinkling your personality with good vibes. Have you ever known a grumpy volunteer?
Volunteering keeps employees loyal, proud, and happy.
You can: Keep yourself happy at work. Being happy at work helps you commit long-term to a challenging work environment. You can increase your longevity at the job, lower your burn-out factor, and increase the possibilities for a promotion, and pay raises.
An added bonus: Meet a new colleague, and get out of your business unit's comfort zone. Don't limit your networking opportunities only at job-related activities; make sure to network while you're volunteering.
Clients want to work with good citizens. They’ll be quick to walk away if you or your company are lazy about pursuing corporate social initiatives.
You can: Build genuine relationships. There is no better way to solidify a relationship than by serving. Yes, you can close the deal. But serving side-by-side with your client will not only help bring in revenue; it will make you feel personally involved. Sharing an activity is the No. 1 way to build any relationship.
Before your company can really serve your local—and global—community, it must be in touch with the needs of the community. Volunteering establishes local buy-in, and builds relationships with people near or far.
You can: Establish local buy-in about yourself. People will appreciate a sincere heart, your efforts, and your time. You will be known for your service attitude, and your local relationships and experiences will thrive.
If none of these professional development reasons inspire you, then consider this benefit:
A study by the Corporation for National and Community Service found that charitable work literally makes the heart grow stronger. People who suffered from previous heart attacks were able to improve their health and longevity through volunteering, and people without heart disease reduced their likelihood of developing it.
You can: Get motivated by giving back at work, and strengthen your health in the process. The Center for Talent Innovation has found that high-potential employees who volunteer are happy, and are of healthy mind.
Don’t just look at corporate social responsibility as your company's best practice, and simply another task to complete while working. It’s up to you to make a difference. Change your life on the job by volunteering.
—Pamela Hawley is CEO and founder of award-winning web-based nonprofit UniversalGiving .
[Image: Flickr user Natesh Ramasamy]