Before discussing the advantages and disadvantages of volunteering, I feel it is best to firstly come up with a clear concept of what 'volunteering' and 'voluntary work' is actually all about. Volunteering defined by Dictionary.com as "a person who performs a service willingly and without pay". There are various deeds that can be considered voluntary work, right from helping out the local neighbour with their garden, to aid work in poverty ridden parts of Africa. Hence, the list below of strengths and weaknesses of volunteering is rather 'tongue in cheek' and subjective to every given individual and the voluntary task in hand.
Advantages of Volunteering
Satisfaction - Often the main benefit that volunteers claim is the satisfaction and rewarding feeling that they receive from helping someone in need. Your 'inner' conscious telling you that you have done a good deed, and have helped improved another human being's life in someway or another.
Experience & Skills - obviously depending on the voluntary task in hand, you will have gained a specific experience and skill set that can be useful to you in later life, whether it comes to applying for jobs or universities, or perhaps your experience is needed to help guide other volunteers on how to commit to a particular task.
Health - there have also been academic studies conducted that conclude that on some level that certain voluntary work can help promote an individual's health both physically and mentally, especially for the more elderly generations.
Social Awareness & Personal Growth - conducting voluntary work often makes a person realise there is more to life than what meets the eye, it broadens their horizons too and from this a person can growth in both social intelligence and awareness.
Disadvantages of Volunteering
Time Consuming - a negative aspect of volunteering is the opportunity cost of time, where instead of volunteering you could have spent your time having fun with friends and family or studying harder to pass a certain exam.
Over Bearing - Volunteering isn't right for everyone -- whether it is the amount of time, the amount that is asked of you or simply the people you are working with (or the issue of no payment), it maybe the case that volunteering work can be rather overbearing and which can lead to stress for an individual.
Emotionally & Physically Tiring - your voluntary work may involve a lot of manual work, which as a result can cause you to be physically exhausted or if it is dealing with advice for distressed victims it can leave you to be emotionally and mentally tried also.
Frustrating - particularly if you join a volunteering scheme, you may find certain aspects of the scheme frustrating whether that be people who aren't taking it as seriously as you are, or there are obvious flaws that you recognise yet have no power or control to be fix them.
Summary of the Advantages and Disadvantages of Volunteering
Volunteering can benefit society on so many levels -- economically, socially etc. -- and it doesn't only benefit the people that the volunteers are actually helping out but also the volunteers themselves through gaining new experiences and skill sets etc. As long as the individual enjoys and is happy to do the volunteering in many cases voluntary work has to be considered a win--win scenario. If you have any additional advantages and disadvantages of volunteering or any general remarks regarding voluntary work then I encourage you to share them in the comments box below.