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Emphasizing the Personal and Professional Benefits of Service: Encouraging Volunteers to Ask, "What’s in It for Me?"

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As practitioners in the field of volunteer engagement, we all know the extraordinary impact volunteers have on creating real change in diverse communities. We are also familiar with the multitude of altruistic motivations that inspire individuals to step up and lend a hand. At the same time, we also know that volunteering can be a terrific way for individuals to gain benefits both personal and professional. We’ve seen volunteers translate their service into dynamic career paths and make new friends through shared volunteer experiences. Whether they are driven to engage primarily by a motivation to do good in the world or simply to stay busy while they look for paid employment, the end result can be a volunteer experience that is life-changing for both the volunteer and the community.

As volunteer managers, we know all of this. But do our volunteers?

This article by Erin L. Barnhart provides an overview of how volunteer management professionals can play a more active role in encouraging volunteers – both current and new – to explore and identify the multitude of motivations they might have for getting involved. Barnhart explores how leaders of volunteers can help individuals better understand a key element of service: because altruistic and personal motivations and goals are not mutually exclusive, both types of motivations can often lead to more satisfying, meaningful and effective volunteer placements.