Psychology Today lists 5 reasons you should volunteer.

  1. Volunteers live longer and are healthier
  2. Volunteering establishes strong relationships.
  3. Volunteering is good for your career.
  4. Volunteering is good for society.
  5. Volunteering gives you a sense of purpose.

I believe there is another reason that underlies all of the good ones above (although it takes some time for #3 to happen).

Volunteering makes you feel good.

Let’s look at some case studies in how volunteering made me feel better.

Case Study #1: The Extreme Nonprofit Makeover

Extreme Nonprofit MakeoverThe first is The Extreme Nonprofit Makeover. The Makeover is a technology upgrade for a local nonprofit that my company started in 2005 (I’ll do the math for you: we’re in year 13). What started as a simple free website for a nonprofit so they could save African American genealogy in Greensboro was so feel-good for us that we did it again the next year. And the next. Along the way, we enticed more local companies to join us so that instead of a simple new website, the nonprofit got new technology, a new logo, print templates, social media training, lower technology bills, new phones, training to use the website and their software and Google Analytics customization.

Case Study #2: ConvergeSouth

ConvergeSouth Technology Users ConferenceAfter all the feel-good generated by the Makeover, a friend asked why our town couldn’t have a cool conference like SXSW? He and I and several others met with community leaders and mapped out a plan for a technology user conference in Greensboro. It grew from there and 12 years later, ConvergeSouth is going strong under new management (I retired after 10 years as Chair or Co-chair) and it’s become the model for user-tech conferences all over the US. With initial foundation funding, we didn’t pay speakers (we covered airfare and hotel) and when we were young and this was new, ConvergeSouth became the ‘have-to’ conference for speakers like Robert Scoble, Dave Winer, Jay Rosen, Elise Camahort, Jimmy Wales, Duncan Black, Maryam Scoble (I could go on…). Now they’re all famous and ConvergeSouth has pointed out to national firms that we’ve got real tech talent right here!

So why volunteer?

Everyone associated with the Makeover and ConvergeSouth is both exhausted and elated when the project is done. There’s an organic ‘high’ when you’ve accomplished something because it’s the right thing to do and because it feels just like (they tell me) a good run. We volunteer in our community and we encourage you to do the same thing in yours.