• Stories of the people that move us into action

    5 WAYS VOLUNTEERING PAVES THE WAY TOWARDS SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP

    When we think of volunteering, we think of giving, and that is true on the outside, but that doesn’t mean that we get nothing in return. What we gain from volunteering is not always visible, and sometimes we’re not even aware of it, but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t made an impact on us. It’s the feelings and emotions we thought were nonexistent in us, it’s the skills we unconsciously employ in every area of our life, it’s the number of friends and people we know growing every day, and the list goes on.

    Volunteering for Social Impact Award enables you to observe directly what it takes to found your own social business.  You will get inspired by other people’s ideas and you will get involved in their development. You will be part of these people’s journey.

    Volunteers make a difference in the society, but volunteering is not the only way to make a difference and is not feasible for everybody. Some people choose to give their contribution differently, like social entrepreneurs, who similarly to volunteers, are the change agents of the society with visionary personalities, and besides profit, their objectives include also addressing social problems.

    So how do social entrepreneurs come into being? Most of them have something in common: they have been volunteers at some point in their life, and that helped them see the world through different lenses. And, how does volunteering do the trick?
    There are 5 WAYS VOLUNTEERING PAVES THE WAY TOWARDS SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP, which are elaborated below:

    1. Volunteering helps you cultivate empathy for others

    Volunteering in essence is a way to connect with others on a deeper level, and relate to their feelings and circumstances. This sense of compassion and unity can hardly be achieved from a distance, you need to walk in their shoes to truly experience the struggle certain categories in the society have to go through and the challenges they face. Volunteering makes you appreciate the little things that you take for granted, and helps you develop feelings of empathy for those who don’t have equal opportunities in the society.

    1. Volunteering helps make you aware of social issues in your community

    Sometimes we’re so preoccupied with our challenges and issues, that we forget that we can still be responsible citizens, and be part of the solution to bigger issues than ours. They say “Ignorance is bliss” and this is relatively true in other areas of life, but when it comes to social issues it’s dangerous. This can be fixed once you tread that path of volunteering, because afterwards you will no longer be able to ignore the social issues in your society that you’ve perhaps unconsciously ignored before. Exploring different areas in volunteering, will give you the idea of what concerns you most, and potentially inspire you in the future to establish a social business that would focus on that field.

    1. Volunteering helps you grow your network

    Let’s get this out of the way: Volunteering makes you more sociable and communicative. This is due to the fact that volunteering provides plenty of opportunities to network, by allowing you to meet individuals from organizations for which you volunteer and people who share your interest in volunteering or otherwise. If you communicate well, contacts you make along the way can all have different impact in how you’re going to approach social entrepreneurship, and whether you’ll be successful in your endeavors. If it doesn’t make sense, think of people as a source of information, skills, and experience. Everyone you meet knows something you don’t, and can do something you are not able to, or thought possible. By associating with these people you learn something that they know, something that they can do, and something they have already done. In terms of social entrepreneurship, being well-informed and being surrounded by competent associates is the main step towards succeeding.

    1. Volunteering provides you with ideas for social entrepreneurship

    As I mentioned in the previous point, people are a source of information, therefore they can also be an excellent source of ideas. However, networking is not the only way to get inspired. Volunteering on its own makes you more creative, and by witnessing social issues hand-to-hand you will get equipped with ideas on how to make an impact, if you’re committed to the cause.

    Consider your decision to volunteer as coming out of the shell. You’d been living protected from all the drama in the society, and now you’ve opened yourself to a world completely new and unknown for you. You’ve stretched your previous limits, and you’ve introduced an innovation in your life. From there on you can only go up. Make sure to not take advantage of your newly developed creativity without giving something back to the society! Social entrepreneurship allows you to do just that.

    1. Volunteering provides you with the essential skills for social entrepreneurship

    What I like about volunteering is that you’re getting the sense of accomplishment that you would get from the job you love, but you’re not really working. Volunteers don’t get judged or fired for not knowing how to do their job, actually nobody expects anything from you, because you’re doing everything for free. This gives you the chance to learn and do that without pressure. Volunteering is a hands-on teacher, it gives you emotional and social intelligence, it teaches you creativity and innovation, empathy, and most importantly leadership. If you think you have these skills, then you’re prepared for social entrepreneurship.

    BONUS:  Although volunteering in any area is very important in building the skills and the contacts for starting up your social enterprise, the best guarantee to achieving your goals in the social business field is to actually volunteer in that field. Volunteering for Social Impact Award enables you to observe directly what it takes to found your own social business.  You will get inspired by other people’s ideas and you will get involved in their development. You will be part of these people’s journey. Therefore, the volunteering experience for Social Impact Award will prepare you for the challenges that you will encounter along the way, and as a matter of course, you will be able to give your contribution to help Social Impact Award grow and advance, and inspire other people in the future. Social Impact is all about reciprocity, after all.

     

     

    Author: Ardita Zulfiu – Volunteer at Social Impact Lab, Macedonia

    Editor: Marija Matovska – SIA Coordinator, Macedonia