Steve Lundquist, PMP, PMI-ACP, M.Sc.
PMI New Hampshire Chapter President
Volunteers are Priceless
By Steven Lundquist, PMP, PMI-ACP, M.SC.
"Volunteers are not paid; not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless" – Unknown Author
We recently celebrated Veteran's Day, and gave thanks to those around us who have served. As a veteran, I can say those thanks are sincerely appreciated, and very welcome. I would also like to point out that all of us can dedicate ourselves to service, and it doesn't need to be in the military. No need to get shot at! Volunteerism to causes and organizations is also a very worthwhile way to serve, and in many cases, can have a more immediate and visible impact on your life and your community.
The following quote from a study published in Harvard Medical Publications* emphasizes the positive benefits of volunteerism.
"Helping others kindles happiness, as many studies have demonstrated. When researchers at the London School of Economics examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness in a large group of American adults, they found the more people volunteered, the happier they were, according to a study in Social Science and Medicine. Compared with people who never volunteered, the odds of being “very happy” rose 7% among those who volunteer monthly and 12% for people who volunteer every two to four weeks. Among weekly volunteers, 16% felt very happy—a hike in happiness comparable to having an income of $75,000–$100,000 versus $20,000, say the researchers."
Quite often I hear people talking about WIIFM (What's In It For Me) when trying to get volunteers to do things for an organization. Personally, I have never been a fan of this acronym because I view volunteerism as a calling and something you do for the organization rather than yourself. However, it may not be obvious, but there are many WIIFM benefits for volunteers.
The Harvard study* outlines many benefits, including those that can improve your personal wellbeing. Basically, you will connect more with people around you and your community. As social animals, humans desire that connection, and it is vital to our health and wellbeing. That is an awesome WIIFM benefit that people don't talk about much. Suffice it to say, volunteering can help you live longer, happier, and a more productive life, no matter what organization you give your time and effort to. If you want more information or a better summary of the report, HelpGuide.org published an article about this.
Of course, the PMI Volunteering website page also describes the benefits of volunteering. Those include benefits that we are used to hearing:
- Build a professional network.
- Gain skills and experience.
- Develop as a leader.
These are also great benefits, and probably the first ones you thought of when I mentioned the WIIFM. They are probably also the first reasons you've heard from anyone asking you to volunteer for an organization. Volunteering for the PMI New Hampshire Chapter is especially more relevant to the specific skills and leadership areas that you work in, and should definitely coincide with any career advancement goals you may have.
The benefits described on the PMI Volunteering page and the PMI New Hampshire Volunteering page are common answers to “Why Volunteer?” questions, but we should not lose sight of the “softer” benefits.
Of course, there are other reasons to volunteer aside from WIIFM. The biggest being that many organizations need you, and it is a socially responsible thing to do. The health and happiness, or professional benefits, are for you. The actual volunteering you do keeps organizations such as the PMI New Hampshire Chapter actually functioning and providing the benefits to thousands of people throughout the state. The sense of service may be what contributes to the sense of happiness and wellbeing, but speaking more pragmatically, knowing that you can make a real difference to thousands of people is a just reward. For me, it is a continuation of that sense of service I got while on active duty. And I would love for you to be able to feel that as well.
If you are interested in volunteering for the Chapter, please reach out to any member of the Board, and let them know. The chapter has many projects and initiatives that we can put your talents and energy to. And consider leadership positions in the chapter. That is where you can have the greatest impact on the organization, as well as on yourself.
* Digital copies of the Harvard Medical Publications report cost $18 each.
Steve Lundquist, PMP, PMI-ACP, M.Sc.
PMI New Hampshire Chapter
If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me.