Giving back both gives you an enormous sense of wellbeing and brings a ray of sunshine into the lives of even complete strangers. Think about the Singaporean taxi driver who lent his passenger S$20 to pay a S$15 fare after she had forgotten her wallet, or Malaysian fruit supplier Goh Tong Liang who raised RM1,500 to fly Russian tourist Anna Tokareva back home after she lost her backpack and her passport. Even the smallest gestures can have a huge impact, so let's make a difference today.
"It's better to give than receive" is the old saying and more and more people agree. In Singapore, a 2013 survey by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) found that one in three Singaporeans now volunteer. It's not just giving money, giving up your time can make a big difference too. But whether you donate money or time, giving back is beneficial to both the beneficiary and the benefactor.
Most people volunteer either because they enjoy doing something useful and helping others, or they like doing volunteer work and feeling good about themselves. But it's not just a feeling satisfaction of a good day's work that motivates people to give back.
For example, do you want to acquire valuable personal and professional skill sets? A lot of volunteer work requires skills of some sort, and many organisations also provide basic training, from crowd management to CPR. Volunteering is also great way of networking and meeting new people in both a professional and personal capacity. Just arrived in a new town, looking to make friends or interested in new activities? By donating your time you'll meet people who share the same interests, and learn more about your community, neighbourhood and city.
Volunteering is also good for the body and mind. A 2013 survey in the US found that 76% of people who volunteered said that volunteering has made them feel healthier, 94% said that volunteering improved their mood, and 78% said that volunteering lowered their stress levels. The combination of often-physical activity with the satisfaction that you are making a difference to your community is a powerful tool in ensuring that you live a happier, healthier life.
Looking for somewhere to volunteer?
In Singapore, Singapore Cares provides a wide variety of volunteer opportunities through many different partner organisations, while the NVPC aims to promote and develop volunteerism and philanthropy by working with schools, NGOs, charities and the private sector.
In Malaysia, the Volunteer and Charity Work page is a good round-up of causes that you can get involved in including the Malaysian Red Crescent Society, Malaysian Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association and Women's Aid Organization.
So, what are you waiting for? Let's all make helping others a priority now!