According to the Non-profit Source, 77% of individuals believe that it is possible to make a difference through the support of charitable causes, and as a result, roughly 69% of the U.S. population gives. Many of us have a meaningful connection to charitable initiatives, whether it is donating food during the Holiday season, or donating $2 to cancer research at your local teller. However, for many, donating your time, skills, and expertise can be much more fulfilling; Dwayne Harmon is one such individual. Despite earning his livelihood as a battle-hardened marketer, Dwayne Harmon knows the importance of giving back. Guided by the principle that giving is more valuable than receiving, Dwayne Harmon outlines several key motivating factors that got him hooked on volunteering.
Volunteering Provides a Sense of Purpose
We all choose to support causes that resonate with us. Whether we have lost a loved one to cancer, or had a friend experience homelessness, these experiences resonate with us, and tend to guide our decision-making when selecting a charitable organization to support. The silver lining of experiencing adversity is that you are able to empathize with others who have had similar experiences, making active participation much more rewarding. Having a personal connection to a cause can also encourage community members to share their stories, knowing that you have gone through something similar. Harmon explains that this tangible relationship to a charitable organizations mission and mandate can make volunteering extremely fulfilling.
In addition to connecting with causes we feel passionate about, volunteering may also be beneficial for your mental health. According to several key studies, volunteering can help counteract the effects of stress, anger and anxiety. The social contact aspect of working with others alone can have a profound effect on your overall psychological wellbeing. By measuring hormones and brain activity, researchers have discovered that helping others can deliver immense pleasure. Dwayne Harmon can attest to this, as it has made him a more well-balanced, calm, and attentive person in his life and business as a marketer.
Connects You to a Community
In addition to being beneficial for your mental health, volunteering makes you feel like you are a part of something bigger than yourself. We live in an increasingly digitally connected but physically disconnected society and connecting with other people can make us feel a part of local communities. Human beings are social creatures and rely heavily on the compassion of others for survival. Dwayne Harmon recognizes that meeting with agency clients and workers face-to-face can deepen our relationships with a charitable organization. Often, social workers and volunteers enter a charitable organization with the intention of helping others, but often end up getting more out of it than they initially anticipate, which a major driver for volunteers.
Roughly 63 million Americans, which is 25% of the entire adult population, volunteer their time, talents and energy to charitable organizations. Dwayne Harmon believes that part of what keeps people engaged with giving is being able to see the impact of your work firsthand. When you donate money to a non-profit or charity, that is often where engagement stops. But when you sit side-by-side with marginalized communities, you are able to see how the food you prepared, care packages you created, or programs you built add value to peoples lives.
You Can Acquire New Skills
Lastly, volunteering with a charitable organization can surprisingly help you learn new skills and build them in others. Unlike a for-profit environment, many volunteering opportunities provide extensive training, and can help you build on the skills that you already have. Volunteering may even be an opportunity to try something new without making the major commitment of changing careers. It is also an opportunity to use the skillset you already have, whether it is marketing, project management or accounting, to strengthen an organization that wouldn’t be able to embark on these ventures otherwise.
Dwayne Harmon believes that the more you give, the more you receive. A study by the Journal of Economic Psychology called Do it with joy!, demonstrated exactly that, showcasing that British workers in the non-profit sector derived considerably more life satisfaction out of their work than those in the for-profit sector. In addition to this study, several other studies have shown that we are hardwired to give, as it lights up the pleasure centres of our brains. A 2008 study by Elizabeth Dunn at the University of British Columbia re-enforced these claims, as she found that spending money on others promotes happiness more than spending money on oneself.
Ultimately, regardless of the cause, actively partaking in a charitable initiative comes with a multitude of advantages. Dwayne Harmon reminds individuals that it is never too late to become an active member of your community. Mr. Harmon gladly supports charities such as Dreams Come True, Cars for our Troops, Pax’s K9 Cure, RUF at UNF, and Faith for Freedom.