If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. – Isaiah 58:10. Time, Talent, and Treasure – the three categories of Giving. Many people volunteer their time as part of their giving priority each year. Volunteering, whether in a faith community, at a local nonprofit, or in service to a neighbor, is an important part of a balanced life. Being in the service of others has been proven to boost mental health and even increase the quality of life in senior volunteers . Preparing and serving a hot meal at a local soup kitchen makes you appreciate reheated leftovers. Without volunteers, many nonprofit and faith organizations could not fulfill their mission. The labor provided by those unpaid helpers is a key part of their success. Independentsector.org estimated the hourly value of a volunteer in 2010 at $21.36. Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes. They volunteer in different ways for different reasons. 1. The Church Volunteer Blessed are those dependable members of our churches. Churches have always relied heavily on volunteers: From a warm welcome to those coming through the door on Sunday to building the the playground next to the nursery. Ministry committees organize meals those who are recovering from surgery, provide food in the hall after funerals, and launder linens used in worship services. Churches also “practice what they preach” by going into the community to help nonmembers. Men’s groups mow yards and fix household problems for single parents and the elderly. Youth groups make sandwiches to distribute to the homeless or collect supplies for a mission. Women’s groups provide layettes for local pregnancy support programs. 2. The Passionate Volunteer One of the main reasons people volunteer is because of a personal passion. The church volunteer is passionate about their faith community and about serving as a call from Jesus. Political campaigns rely on volunteers that believe in their candidate to main telephones, send out mailings, and speak on behalf of the candidate. Right to Life believers support pregnancy resource centers and write to lawmakers. 3. The Immediate Rewarded Volunteer Working at an animal shelter socializing the kittens or walking the dogs is a great way to get love from an animal, especially if lifestyle or allergies prevents a family from having a pet of their own. My husband and I volunteer as ushers at the local civic art house. Our motivation to give up 5 hours on Friday or Saturday night, the typical date night, is not only based on supporting the arts, but also the reward of seeing the performance for free. 4. The Will-Be Rewarded Volunteer Volunteer art house ushers receive a couple of free tickets to enjoy a performance after a certain number of hours. Dedicated volunteers receive a special name tag or a service pin for years of service. The names of volunteers are printed in the paper or listed in a newsletter. Nonprofits can work with the Points of Light Institution and nominate their volunteers for a President’s Volunteer Service Award . 5. The Non-nonprofit Volunteer National statistics on volunteering are based on groups that track and report information about their volunteers. But the gift of Time and Talent goes beyond time spent as an official volunteer. Many people volunteer to help out their neighbors and family members by driving to doctor appointments, balance checkbooks, grocery shopping, annual yard clean-ups, etc. As official support services struggle with funding to continue their mission, individuals stepping up to help will be the true safety for the vulnerable members of our community. 6. The Voluntold Is the word “voluntold” new to you? Our son, who attends the United States Coast Guard Academy, used it during a video-chat conversation when we asked what he did that weekend: “I was voluntold to help setting up tables & chairs for a conference.” Voluntold is when you are directed to volunteer for a job, whether you want to do it or not. Given the circumstances, there really isn’t a choice because of the group you belong to or some volunteer requirement. Many high schools require a minimum number of volunteer hours as a graduation requirement. Some churches require a certain number of hours volunteering in retail shop, thrift store, Bingo fundraising, or even church-operated nursing facilities. ”Community Service” is a common court-appointed punishment for minor offenses. When time is given under Voluntold conditions, is the benefit still received? I hope that by going through the motions as a requirement, those not previously exposed to the benefits of volunteering will feel the reward of helping others and ultimately decide to volunteer on their own. A Sad Trend in Volunteerism . . . In his book Bowling Alone , author Robert Putnam explores the sad trend in volunteerism: Americans are not prioritizing giving their time to others as we isolate ourselves in our own personal agendas and remain inside our homes with technology rather than going out into the community. Locally, we have noticed a decline in volunteer time as parents, who once were able to stay at home or work only part-time, are needing to work full-time to keep their families afloat during these rocky economic times. Schools, thrift stores, and soup kitchens are having to ask more from their core volunteers to continue their mission as people are forced to work more. Why do you volunteer in your community? What reward do you receive for this Giving? Meet us in the comments! Volunteers image from Shutterstock Related Articles: Tax deductions for volunteer work How Churches Can Find Relevance Through Giving How to Raise Money for Community Service Projects or Missions 10 Compelling Reasons to Give More Short Term Mission Trips | 17 Ways To Save Money Christmas Gift Alternatives: 5 Ways to Give Without Buying Gifts See The Impact When You Donate To Charity Cherie is a small business accountant with a passion to teach others about personal finance -especially military families through the Financial Peace program. With her son & daughter at college, Cherie enjoys spending time with her husband of 23 years, quilting, and volunteering. The articles on this site are for entertainment purposes and should not be taken as financial advice. Please contact a financial professional for specific advice regarding your situation. 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The 6 Different Types of Volunteers