Volunteering is good for everyone including men: We’re talking health benefits, emotional benefits… not to mention benefits to the whole community.
So why do fewer men these days report spending their time volunteering? And the big question: What can we do to change it?
Many men were raised with the expectation that someday they would be their family’s financial provider. In this mindset, activities that didn’t push them toward educational or career goals may have been pushed toward the end of the list. And for many, living through the Great Recession only intensified the pressures around financial security.
But by falsely categorizing “bringin’ home the bacon” as Dad’s singular role, we miss out on all the other gifts Dad (or Uncle, Grandpa or that awesome neighbor) has to offer.
They Haven’t Been Asked
Similar to the expectations men may have been raised with, if they currently live in a community where women are the ones organizing the fundraisers, directing the school play and chaperoning the field trips… they might not feel like it’s their place to volunteer.
This one has an easy fix: By clearly inviting new volunteers for specific roles. This doesn’t mean sending out a group email! This is a one-to-one request, recognizing someone’s talents and giving him an opportunity to do something meaningful. Click here for six tips on getting parents to volunteer.
The best part? When more men are visible in volunteer roles, it makes it far easier to continue recruiting other men. That’s because the act of volunteering is no longer seen as a “mom thing.”
What Men Can Do That Women Can’t
When it comes to volunteering, there’s one specific thing men can do that women simply can’t:
Be a strong male role model.
Nearly a forth of all kids in the US live in a mother-only household. But it’s important and healthy for all kids to see kind and responsible men caring for the world around them.
So many of today’s boys struggle with what it means to be a man, with violent and destructive movies, music, games and ads just about everywhere you look. That’s why it’s critical that our boys have someone to look up to. Someone they can trust, relate to, and imagine becoming some day.
Benefits to Men
There are tons of benefits of volunteering for men. First, there’s the reward of being able to model putting your values in action. What could be better than making an impact in a child’s life?
And in contrast to the idea that dads are a human ATM, volunteering allows men to explore new interests and talents. And sure, there could be career benefits, too, like learning transferable skills or building friendships. (Perhaps with the parent who’s also a hiring manager…)
And for the majority of men who report that work and commuting take away from family time, there are few better ways to create family memories, start building blocks for success, and cement strong ethics in your kids. [Check out “How to Introduce Young Children to Community Service” for ideas.]
So whether you’re an exasperated mom looking for support running a Girl Scout* troop, or a father wondering how to get more men involved at your annual fundraiser, we all can be a part of inviting more men to the meaningful work of volunteering.
It’s good for us, it’s good for our kids, and it’s good for our world.
*youthsquad.makingfriends.com and MakingFriends®.com are not affiliated with, endorsed by or a licensee of Girl Scouts of the USA.