If you’re a small business owner, you may think there aren’t enough hours in the day to volunteer your precious time.

“The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.” Keith Ferrazzi, Never Eat Alone.

But do you remember the saying: it is better to give than to receive?

And we may all have varying amounts of money in the bank, but we all have the same number of hours in our days.

Giving really is a powerful way to promote personal growth and the easiest way to do this is by giving our time to something we believe in.

I dedicate 30 minutes every Friday lunchtime to The Silver Line, a charity who supports the elderly who are suffering from loneliness. I’ve been speaking with the same 80+ year old lady for two years now and she’s an absolute delight!

Donating time can create a greater impact more quickly than monetary donations alone, and it can even help business. Here’s how.

1. Volunteer in order to create new relationships

By donating time to the community, you form and cultivate relationships with people you may not usually meet.

These new friends may be subject matter experts in their own lines of work and could act as a sounding board for ideas thanks to their impartial feedback.

“Take the initiative in building friendships – leaders always do.” David Schwartz, PhD, The Magic of Big Thinking.

These friendly relationships may never turn into direct sales, but you’re now mingling with a new network within networks. And, as people buy from those they know, like and trust, you’re more likely to create generate business from those you are friendly with in the first instance.

Why would I ever think I’d form a friendship with someone older than my own parents? I didn’t. She asks how my business is going and offers her advice and guidance based on the vast life experience she has gained. And yet it’s genuinely interesting to learn a little more about her and her background every week in return.

2. Volunteer in order to learn new skills

Working within a small voluntary team, you’re granted the opportunity to collaborate with one another, much like you would in an organisation. This allows you to grow and develop transferable skills:

  • Analysing social styles to ensure effective communication between the team
  • Acting as a leader
  • Negotiating with others to ensure the greater good of the entire team
  • Listening (truly listening) to what others have to say

You’re also far more likely to get involved in things you wouldn’t normally do in your everyday life.

“Start thinking about how you’re going to make everyone around you successful.” Keith Ferrazzi, Never Eat Alone.

With my Silver Line friend, I’ve needed to develop keen listening skills as the majority of the call is spent lending my ear to my friend’s highs and lows of the week. I also had to put my research hat on as she’s a keen aeroplane fanatic and I wanted to give us another (two-way!) topic for conversation.

3. Volunteer in order to lower stress levels

A large part of good wellbeing is by having a sense of purpose and meaning, and this can be fulfilled through volunteer work.

A study by United Health Group in 2013 found that 78% of people who volunteered over a 12-month period said that their charitable activities through volunteering lowered their stress levels.

The report goes on to say, “doing good for others helps us to stress less, and less stress is an important component of staying healthy”.

I can believe it.

Staying healthy benefits us both professionally and personally; it leads to higher productivity and a greater sense of purpose and wellbeing.

Quite frankly, I gain a huge amount of personal satisfaction from knowing I’ve made such a positive a difference to my friend’s day and week, all from donating just 30 minutes.

 


 

If you’re interested in volunteering your time for people and causes that mean something to you, check out The Silver Line or Do-it Trust.