What is volunteering and why is it important?

11 August 2022

Volunteering is at the heart of all we do here at Social Good Connect. Our mission is to connect  employees with volunteering opportunities matching their skills, interests, and passions. But what does this actually mean? What is volunteering and why is it important? Let’s take a deep dive into the importance of volunteering, and what it is all about. 

What is volunteering? 

So, what is a volunteer? The easiest definition is someone who engages in voluntary work. However, it’s a broad definition that can apply to many different areas, so we need to tighten it up a little.  

What is volunteering? Many think that it’s work that you undertake that you are not paid for. We’ve written before about the main differences between volunteering and unpaid work. The difference between volunteer and unpaid work is often rooted in intent – volunteers want to give their time while unpaid workers might be obligated for other reasons. 

Volunteering has a much longer history than you might expect. It can be traced all the way back to 12th century Britain, where volunteers used to operate hospitals. The word “volunteer” itself comes from French and began to rise in popularity in the 18th century. In the 12th century, it was often connected to religion. In the 18th century, it was often used to describe voluntarily joining the military. Nowadays, voluntary work is used as a vehicle for people to do social good and help others. 

What does the government say? 

The government guidelines that define what is volunteer work are pretty clear. You’re a volunteer if: 

  • You spend unpaid time working to the benefit of the environment or other people, including activity with public, private, or voluntary organisations 
  • You have not signed an employment contract. Voluntary agreements are not compulsory and there is no contracted obligation to complete the activity 
  • You have no required hours and are completing this activity freely and of your own volition 
  • You receive a reimbursement of expenses for your volunteer work, but no monetary payment or rewards outside of this 

Unlike if you were to undertake work as a temporary or permanent employee, you are not entitled to National Minimum Wage nor are you protected by other parts of employment law. 

Why is volunteering important? 

Volunteering is so important as it allows us to provide support where it’s needed the most. We all have busy days, so it might seem odd to dedicate your precious time to a cause when you won’t have any monetary gain. 

However, altruism does come with a lot of other benefits. Most charities and non-profits don’t have the resources they need to fully target their charitable aims. The work of volunteers helps them to thrive and do good in the world. 

What is volunteering? Something we can grow from, whether we know it or not. Here at Social Good Connect, we believe in the power of community. By volunteering in your community, you can meet new people, strengthen connections, and help to support your community in some of the areas where aid is needed the most. This is at the core of why volunteering is important, and the smallest of actions can have more of an impact than you might imagine.  

Where does Social Good Connect fit into this? 

Social Good Connect creates connections between non-profits in need and employees of businesses who want to give back in a meaningful way. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to have a lot of skills or tons of volunteering experience in order to help out non-profits. 

Many just need a pair of helping hands! Our search-and-match platform takes your skills, interests, and causes into consideration to then deliver the perfect employee volunteering opportunity. 

What is volunteering? We think it is easy, and something everyone should try! 

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