Benefits of Volunteering
Volunteering can have a meaningful and positive impact on your community, but were you aware that volunteering can have many personal benefits? Below is a list of benefits that you may or may not be aware of. However, remember the greatest benefit is helping someone in need.
Recent research shows that volunteering in your community improves your general well-being. Volunteering not only improves self-esteem, but also reduces heart rates and blood pressure, increases endorphin production, enhances immune systems, buffers stress and combats social isolation. For more information on how volunteering can improve your health, visit the Corporation on National and Community Service.
Some schools offer academic credit for volunteer work through "service learning." This is a teaching method that integrates hands-on learning (through service to the community) into the school curriculum. It's available in college as well as high school and earlier grades. To find out more visit Learn and Serve.
Federal Tax Deductions
Volunteers in the U.S. can receive tax deductions from the federal government on many costs associated with volunteering, such as travel expenses, parking, convention attendance fees, etc. The deductions apply ONLY if you are NOT getting reimbursed for these expenses by the organization you are assisting and you are itemizing on your tax form (not if you use the 1040 EZ form). If you have any questions about how you should file, please consult a tax professional.
State Mileage Deductions
Virginians who claim a charitable mileage deduction on their federal return may also claim the difference between 18 cents per mile (the state rate) and the federal rate (14 cents per mile) on their Virginia state tax return. Enter the difference between 18 cents per mile and the charitable mileage deduction per mile allowed on federal Schedule A. If you used actual expenses for the charitable mileage deduction, and those expenses were less than 18 cents per mile, then you may use the difference between actual expenses and 18 cents per mile.
Capture the interest of an employer by showing that you are an involved citizen and a person who works to make the community a better place. Your volunteer work will demonstrate that you have practical skills, can function in a work environment and care about your community.