Motivating an audience

Essay by fmp185College, UndergraduateA+, January 2003

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The Benefits of Volunteering

People volunteer for a wide variety of reasons, especially wanting to help others. Some people are uncomfortable with the notion that a volunteer "benefits" from doing volunteer work. Traditionally, volunteer work is seen as a form of charity based on unselfishness and altruism. The best volunteering does involve the desire to serve others, but this does not exclude other motivations, as well.

Instead of considering volunteering as something you do for people who are not as fortunate as yourself, begin to think of it as an exchange. Consider that most people find themselves in need at some point in their lives. So today you may be the person with the ability to help, but tomorrow you may be the recipient of someone else's volunteer effort. Even now you might be on both sides of the service cycle: maybe you are a tutor for someone who can't read, while last month the volunteer ambulance corps rushed you to the emergency room.

Volunteering also includes "self-help." If you are active in your neighborhood crime watch, not only are you protecting your neighbors' homes, but your neighbors are watching yours too. Adding your effort to the work of others makes everyone's lives safer.

Think about how much you receive when you give your time in a volunteer program. Consider why you want to volunteer. You may have several different reasons. Here are just a few of the many possible motivations identified by other volunteers:

"h to feel needed

"h to share a skill

"h to get to know a community

"h to demonstrate commitment to a cause/belief

"h to gain leadership skills

"h for recognition

"h to have an impact

"h to learn something new

"h to help a friend or relative

"h to be challenged

"h for...