Three unexpected, selfish, benefits of volunteering

Simon Lucey The Kids Network

I joined The Kids Network as a trustee just before Christmas after 3 years of watching their success from the side-lines. I was totally inspired by the work they do and incredibly enthusiastic to get involved. I wanted to contribute something positive and help their future growth.

What I didn’t expect though was the many benefits of volunteering for me. I haven’t got space to take you through them all, but here are my top three (selfish) benefits of volunteering – in no particular order…

First up learning. Whilst I’ve hope I’ve shared some useful tips and tricks – I’m sure I’ve gained ten times more knowledge from the amazing people at The Kids Network than I’ve shared with them. Working with people from such a range of backgrounds and getting such a detailed view of how the organisation runs so efficiently has taught me more than I can ever imagine. I genuinely didn’t really consider this before applying – does that make me incredibly arrogant? Possibly. I’m certainly incredibly grateful for it now though.

Next up, the people. All this knowledge didn’t just come from thin air. I’m indebted to the amazing people at The Kids Network. Despite being limited to Zoom by you-know-what I’ve been warmly welcomed by every single person I’ve met – either in the fulltime team or on the board of trustees. I can’t wait to meet them all in real life – I’m sure I have some new life-long friends.

Heavily linked to this, the impact of volunteering on my mental health has been really positive. Working on interesting, important challenges with this amazing group has given me an injection of enthusiasm and good feelings during a year which has at times seemed fairly bleak. Our bi-monthly trustee meetings and all the surrounding meetings with the team are real highlights in my week.

In short – volunteering your time, whether its for The Kids Network, or another charity (though I’m obviously very biased), is an incredible thing for the cause that you are helping. But, if you are mulling over if you can make time in your busy calendar – don’t forget the benefits you’ll get out of it too. I’ve certainly been surprised.