Volunteering mean jumping in to do work without the prospect of pay. Why bother? The answer varies, but for retirees, two responses come to mind: to make a contribution to a cause bigger than yourself, and to give back while using time productively.
Young people often volunteer to test out careers or to prove their worth to get paying jobs. When Boomers do it, the time to prove yourself has usually passed. It’s time to do! Even when retirees need to do some paid work to supplement their income, they may do some volunteering. This may be as informal as babysitting the grandchildren, leading the street club, or working on a church or club committee, or as formal as committing to put in time for a cause.
Many volunteering opportunities require the willingness to do, but often, organizations and groups need people with specific skills. In either case,Independentsector.org has estimated that traditional volunteering has a market value of $18-20 per hour, while skills-based projects commute to $40-500 per hour that go to the cause instead of salaries and other employee costs.
Despite the value of volunteerism to the group and the people who receive the service, volunteering helps the needs that people have to contribute to their community, help others, share knowledge and passion, or feel needed. Some critics feel that because the volunteers receive emotional or psychological benefits that their motives are selfish. As Susan Ellis of Energize, Inc. has pointed out, volunteering is more of an exchange than a one-sided occurrence. Most people need help at some time in their lives, so volunteering is a way to balance the equation in the long run.
Even if volunteers benefit, that doesn’t mean they don’t genuinely want to help. If you volunteer at a hunger center and enjoy the camaraderie of your colleagues, you are still doing good works. As a matter of fact, if you enjoy what you are doing rather than considering it a burden, the joy and excitement you bring to the work may be contagious. If volunteer in your spare time rather than watching television all day, you are still doing good while feeling productive.
Especially if you are approaching retirement, consider volunteering. Why bother? It will offer both you and the cause you are helping many benefits.