You can get paid for volunteering.

I know, what an oxymoron. But it’s true, you always get paid for volunteering. Here’s how.


Getting paid in time

The first way you can get paid for volunteering is in the form of time. Sounds odd, since volunteer work does take up some of your time, but it can also save you time when looking for and gaining future jobs. If you’re exploring possible work in your field, tick that volunteer box in your advanced search to expand your insight on what’s out there.

Once you’re ready for full time paid work, it’s a lot quicker to gain a position with volunteer work on your CV. Employers jump at the sight of volunteer efforts, and I would know; I paid my dues doing volunteer writing and social media work and I got myself a full time job in my field within months of finishing my degree (and considering the tortoise-pace it usually takes get a job, that’s pretty good going).


Getting paid in friendship

My absolute favourite part of doing volunteer work is the social aspect of it. In paid work, the majority of people are keen to clock in and clock out without any interest in the work and the people around them because they’re after a shiny paycheck and that’s it. In volunteer work, people are after a reason to keep them going.

The best way to keep your flow going is by making friends at your volunteer workplace, and this is surprisingly easy considering you all have one thing in common – a shared passion for the work you’re doing (since you’re all willing to do it for free). Meeting new people at volunteer jobs can help instill passion back into your work, help you learn new things about what you’re doing, and help make those necessary connections for work in the future.


Getting paid in knowledge

The benefit of volunteer work that is commonly tossed around is that it’s good experience. You can gain so much insight about how things are really run in your desired discipline. Seek out charity based groups in your field that you can offer your assistance to – for example, budding artists can help out at the art gallery, budding psychologists can offer their brains to an experiment, budding media extraordinaires can sign up to be a Maverick for TEARAWAY (this is definitely the best idea). Even if the volunteer work isn’t relevant to the field you wish to pursue, you can still learn a lot about different places and people, as well as learning to embrace kindness and selflessness and the importance of helping others.


Getting paid in passion

As surprising as it may sound, the fact that volunteer work doesn’t provide any dollar bills does have its advantages. My employers always come back to me with more curiosity for my volunteer positions over anything else. People are drawn to passion, and if you can show future employers that you’re so keen that you’ve been willing do it for free, you will stand out.

Another cool thing about not getting paid for your efforts is that it can help you find out what your true passion is. If you are thinking of working to save the environment, but the idea of helping plant trees for no financial gain makes you yawn, it could be time to reconsider your calling. There’s already too many people in the world that are only in their jobs for the money for you to be another! But don’t fret. There’s always time to figure out what you want to do. You could even find out what you want to do with your life by taking up a volunteer position doing something completely out of your comfort zone.

I am one of the world’s biggest advocates for volunteer work. The positions I’ve signed up for are the most enjoyable jobs I’ve ever had, and I’ve gained much more from them than I ever thought I would. Don’t think that you have to put in hours on end doing volunteer work. Everyone has bills to pay, and you are completely justified to want to put paid work in front of volunteering. However, if you do have a couple of hours a week to spare, putting your hand up and helping others will be truly worth your while.


Dana is a writer and social media guru who volunteers for TEARAWAY, just like everybody in the Mavericks crew! She’s the lady peeking out from behind her notebook:

Photo by Rain Francis.

The Mavericks gathered at Niesh in 2016. Photo by Rain Francis.