Why do I volunteer? The adventure, the satisfaction, and apparently it makes you sexier

I recently changed my facebook status to ask, “Should people give back? Why or why not?” I was pleased to find that this generated a lot of discussion.

Nearly everyone chimed in with some form of, “yes, we should give back.”

There were almost as many reasons as there were posters. One reason that was completely overlooked, was that it makes you sexier. Seriously.  Check this study out.

I think there are numerous reasons why we should give back. I’d like to explain why I do.

First, I feel a sense of responsibility. As I write, comfortably from my home office, there are people living on the street, genocide is taking place on at least two continents, and the rate of hungry people around the world is rising. That sucks. I fear that if we do not contribute in the small ways that we can, then nothing will change. I believe that we can do better than this.

Beyond feeling obligated, there are also several selfish reasons that motivate me to volunteer my time and expertise.

For starters, I find it satisfying. A few years back, I bought a new MacBook. At first, I was happy with the new computer. Then, Apple released a new, cooler MacBook. Though it wasn’t a big deal, I secretly wanted the updated version. After that, I understood that material things would rarely be satisfying – something newer and cooler keeps coming along.

But the satisfaction I get from volunteering doesn’t deteriorate like it does so often with consumer goods. When I orient my life towards helping other people in the small ways that I can, it gives me a satisfaction and a meaning beyond buying MacBooks and playing with my facebook status. It makes me feel good, it makes me feel like my life has value.

I also like the adventure. I’m always looking for an excuse to leave my day-to-day behind and hop on a jet to see some new corner of the world for a few months. Volunteering internationally gives me a perfect excuse to do that. I get a huge rush from stepping out of a jet and into a country I’ve never seen before. At first, I was put off by the huge price tag of volunteering in other countries, but over time I figured out how to get a corporate sponsor to completely cover my costs. I explain exactly how to do this in my talks and presentations. I will also be blogging about fundraising and corporate sponsors in the future.

So why do I give back? I love the adventure, I find it satisfying, and I refuse to believe that we currently have an acceptable quality of life on earth. Oh, and the side effects of having a more competitive resume, being sexier, and having some seriously cool stories are pretty sweet too.

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