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Volunteering: getting started can be the hardest part

Try these tips

Need a mood boost? Start volunteering.

According to the New York Post External Site, 93 percent of volunteers reported an improved mood, 79 percent reported lower stress levels and 88 percent of people saw improved self-esteem through helping others. 

Volunteering, regardless of the task, simply feels good. It creates that warm, fuzzy feeling inside — which can significantly improve your overall health.

Tips for getting started on your volunteer journey

Whether you’re a first-timer or seasoned volunteer, it can be intimidating. Take comfort in knowing getting started is the hardest part. 

If you’re stuck, we’re here to help. With this checklist, you can feel confident in starting your volunteer journey today.

  1. Determine your why.

    What is your ‘why’ for volunteering? Maybe it’s to support a friend or family member — or simply a cause you care about.

  2. Write down your passions.

    Do you have a love for animals, sports, performing arts, or preserving our local and national parks and trails? Whatever you may be passionate about, there is a nonprofit organization out there for you.

  3. Determine your strengths.

    Think about your skills and what you’re good at. Maybe it’s organization, accounting, finances, writing, marketing or leading. Whatever it may be, there is a spot for everyone to use their strengths within a nonprofit organization.

  4. Find a friend.

    To ease those first-time volunteer nerves, or to keep you accountable to volunteering a certain number of hours per month, find a volunteer buddy. This could be a close friend, family or coworker — it’s a great activity to do together!

  5. Start small.

    Set a small, attainable goal to get started and hold yourself to it throughout the year (e.g., I will volunteer once per month).

A volunteer’s story: Girl Scouts of Iowa

Kelly Brummond of Des Moines, Iowa, started her volunteer journey when her daughter joined the Girl Scouts of Iowa External Site in kindergarten. What started as managing her daughter's troop checkbook and cookie sales, spiraled into being a troop co-lead and product manager since 2013.

“Volunteering for the Girl Scouts of Iowa, has given me a greater sense of purpose and satisfaction in my life, which makes me happy,” Brummond said. 

Not only has Brummond reaped the overall health benefits of volunteering — her connection to her community has also improved through lasting friendships and a deepening bond with her daughter through various Girl Scout activities.

“Volunteering for Girl Scouts has definitely helped me to connect with the girls and their parents in my community. The parents have formed a deep bond and friendship over the years — as well as the girls,” said Brummond. “Volunteering has also broadened my understanding and interactions in the communities in which we live through the badge work with the girls.”

Wellmark employees give back through BluesCare GivingSM

Brummond, an employee of Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, takes advantage of The Wellmark Foundation program called BluesCare Giving Opens New Window. BluesCare Giving helps Wellmark employees do their part to give back and build stronger communities by sharing their time, talents and gifts.

Through The Wellmark Foundation’s BluesCare Giving program, employees are encouraged to log their volunteer hours, which earn them the opportunity to direct monetary donations to non-profit organizations. Wellmark employees also may request a matching gift for personal contributions to nonprofit organizations. 

In 2018 alone, the BluesCare Giving program has resulted in more than $1.9 million in funding to nonprofit organizations across Iowa and South Dakota. Employees also provided nearly 40,000 volunteer hours to a wide-variety of nonprofit organizations located throughout both states.  

“Girl Scout troop leaders use their time and talents in many ways to support their Girl Scouts and the many projects they take on,” said Beth Shelton, CEO, Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa. “From experiencing the high adventures of camp to learning the practical applications of cybersecurity, when Wellmark employees volunteer and select our organization to receive critical financial support from the Foundation, it’s a win-win for everyone but most importantly, the future for Iowa’s girls.”

Looking to find enrichment and fulfillment within your community?

Nonprofit organizations are always looking for your help. If you're still unsure of how to start volunteering, check out Volunteer Match External Site to find the organizations that match your passions and strengths — not to mention, keep you updated with new and exciting opportunities within your community each day!

Do you have a story where volunteering within the community positively impacted your health and well-being and provided you with a sense of purpose? Email us today at Send Email.

About The Wellmark Foundation

The Wellmark Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created by Wellmark, Inc., doing business as Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa and Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota. To learn more about The Wellmark Foundation's grant program Opens New Window, as well as a list of previous grant recipients, visit The Wellmark Foundation website. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and The Wellmark Foundation are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.