If you’re looking for a way to inject new life into your work, go into the community and give back with volunteer work.
When you’re grinding through your daily workload, the thought of giving more time and energy to a cause—for free—may sound even more draining. However, studies show that the selfless act of volunteer work has many benefits for your health and productivity.
Volunteering is a great way to build social capital by forging strong connections and relationships. Just like someone with financial capital has investments in the stock market or real estate, someone with social capital invests in relationships.
When you volunteer, you make connections with other volunteers as well as those you serve. Many times, volunteering provides an opportunity to build bridging social capital, which means investing in relationships that reach across a barrier. Whether breaking down the barriers of race, religion, or class, bridging social capital allows you to expand your horizons and gain new perspectives on the world. In a volunteering environment, what becomes important is your shared goal or task, rather than the dividing element that might normally separate you.
Lighting the Inner Spark
When you build social capital, you’re doing more than just making friends or expanding your interests. Research suggests that a higher social capital can improve your creativity at work. The broader and deeper your relationships, the more innovative your ideas.
Social capital can also improve your physical health. If you belong to no social groups, but decide to start volunteering or join a civic group, your risk of dying over the next year is cut in half according to Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor by Sudhir Venkatesh. The same author found that volunteering, attending a religious service, or otherwise increasing your social capital can make as much impact on your happiness as getting a college degree or doubling your income.
Finding Your Passion
Whether it’s working with children, community art, animals, senior adults, or something else, you should find volunteer work in your community that aligns with your values and beliefs and does work that you find meaningful. Here are some national organizations to help you get started in finding your perfect fit.
Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America. This mentoring program matches kids with adults, forming powerful friendships that can shape a child’s future. Whether in the evenings or on weekends, a few hours with your “Little” each month can make a big difference.
Feeding America. This national network of food banks enlists volunteers to sort donated foods, separate items into categories, check expiration dates, and discard damaged items.
Goodwill. Although you may already know this national thrift chain as a great spot to drop off unwanted clothes and furniture, did you know they help veterans and others build skills and re-enter the workforce? Find ways to use your corporate or workplace skills to benefit others who need career mentors.
True North Custom is committed to improving the social capital of our employees and our company. Learn more about how the True North Custom team gives back to our community.