Disadvantages of Volunteer Work

Dedicating your time to volunteer work may have some disadvantages.
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Using your time or skills to give back to charitable organizations in your community can be an extremely rewarding experience. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to make an impact on the lives of others, whether directly or indirectly. While there are a number of emotional and psychological benefits associated with volunteering, there are some potential drawbacks. Before you make the decision to volunteer, consider the pros and cons.

1 Time Commitment

Depending on the type of work you're doing, volunteering can be time-consuming. You may start off doing one task, but before you know it, you've agreed to take on other activities all in the name of giving back. If you're working full time, going to school or trying to raise a family, the time you spend volunteering may result in the other areas of your life being neglected. If you already have a full schedule, look for volunteer opportunities that require only a few hours of your time each month so you're not overextended.

2 Lack of Pay

While volunteer or pro bono work can be emotionally rewarding, you're not receiving any monetary compensation for your time. In some cases, you may even end up spending money when you volunteer. While the IRS does allow you to take a tax deduction for certain volunteer-related expenses, you can't deduct the value of your time or skills. If you're self-employed or you normally get paid to do the type of work you're volunteering for, the lack of pay may mean your overall income suffers. Volunteering may be a good idea if you're hoping to turn the experience into a potential job opportunity, but you should make sure you can cover your living expenses until an offer comes along.

3 Personality Conflicts

Charitable organizations depend on volunteers from all walks of life to get things done. Whether you're volunteering for a small organization or a national charity, you'll inevitably come in contact with someone whose personality doesn't mesh with yours. Having to work with someone you find difficult can be stressful and detract from your goals as a volunteer. If you're distracted by another person's negative attitude or annoying behavior, you could lose focus on what you're there to do. One bad apple could easily spoil the experience, not only for you but for the people you're trying to help.

4 Impact on Health

Volunteering in certain settings could put a strain on your emotional, mental and physical health. The more time you spend volunteering, the more frequently you're exposed to situations that can create feelings of stress, anxiety and frustration. An increase in stress or negative emotions could eventually lead to a deterioration of your physical health. In the process of trying to make life better for others, you could end up making yourself sick.

Rebecca Lake is a freelance writer and virtual assistant living in the southeast. She has been writing professionally since 2009 for various websites. Lake received her master's degree in criminal justice from Charleston Southern University.