Why volunteer? Giving Back

For National Student Volunteer Week (NSVW) 2014, we’ll be publishing a series of posts answering that perennial question – why should I volunteer? Part of my job is to persuade students that volunteering is great, and so I need to be able to do more than just mumble something about helping other people.

dollarThat said, my first and most important reason for volunteering is to give back in some way – volunteering can’t by definition be a purely selfish act as it automatically makes life better for other people. Someone cleverer than me has worked out that volunteering is worth around $200bn annually to the Australian economy – that’s what our volunteers are worth in the wages we don’t pay them, the things we don’t need to do because of them (planting trees, reading to kids etc), the money they pay in transport, food, clothing etc when volunteering and the skills they learn which can be transferred to their paid work, amongst other things. For the record, that’s more than even the mining industry contributes. (Pro Bono, 2014).

FedUniIn 2013 FedUni (or University of Ballarat as it was then) students contributed over 3119 volunteer hours – a contribution worth over $75,000, which is pretty incredible – we’re aiming for over 4000 hours this year – who said students don’t contribute to society? Ours are amazing. (Volunteering Australia, 2012)

Pop Upsocial mediaThis NSVW, we’ll be doing a number of things to help students give back – we’re running 5 Pop-Up Op Shops during the week – students and staff have been donating clothes, accessories and bric-a-brac for the past month or so, and we’ll be selling it all off in exchange for gold coin donations. Not only will all money will be split between the Ballarat Soup Bus (www.soupbus.com.au), Uniting Care (www.unitingcareballarat.com.au) and the Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund (www.relieffund.org.au), but we’ll be preventing several kilograms of unwanted ‘stuff’ from ending up in landfill. Instead, it will be ‘recycled’ by someone else, and anything left at the end of the week will be donated to local Op Shops, so nothing is wasted.

We’re also holding a Campus Clean-up at Mt Helen on Friday afternoon – we’ll be clearing up litter, branches and anything else we come across all over campus and the surrounding walking track. Thanks to the International Student Committee and Dale, our Sustainability Officer for helping make this happen. Anyone interested in joining us just needs to meet at the Hub at 1pm – we’ll provide gloves and a cuppa, but wrap up warm!

In the next few days we’ll be looking at some other reasons to volunteer, and what we’re doing during the week to help it happen, so please keep checking back:
Building Networks
Boosting Skills
Broadening Horizons

– Luke