50 Inspirational Quotes About Volunteering & Giving Back
“What is the essence of life? To serve others and to do good.”
Spoken by Greek philosopher Aristotle over 2300 years ago, one of the most ancient quotes about volunteering offers proof that giving back to the community is hardly a new concept.
With so many people less fortunate than those of us who can afford to travel, and with funding for social services being brutally slashed, volunteering is becoming increasingly important these days.
From immigrants escaping violent conflict and under-privileged kids needing education to homeless people in need of housing, there are no shortage of ways volunteers can help make a difference. The greatest thing about volunteering may be the benefits it offers to individual recipients, their communities, and the volunteers themselves.
We here at Discover Corps founded our company on the principles of striving to make the world a better place. We hope the following 50 quotes about volunteering will inspire you to give back by donating your time, energy, and resources to the causes you’re most passionate about…
1) “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” — Muhammad Ali
2) “Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.” – Sherry Anderson
3) “Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” ― H. Jackson Brown Jr.
4) “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” — Mahatma Gandhi
5) “The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.” – Oscar Wilde
6) “If our hopes of building a better and safer world are to become more than wishful thinking, we will need the engagement of volunteers more than ever.” — Kofi Annan
7) “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands — one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” — Audrey Hepburn
8) “Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain loving one another.” – Erma Bombeck
9) “You may not have saved a lot of money in your life, but if you have saved a lot of heartaches for other folks, you are a pretty rich man.” – Seth Parker
10) “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
11) “Our generation has the ability and the responsibility to make our ever-more connected world a more hopeful, stable and peaceful place.” — Natalie Portman
12) “The purpose of life is not to be happy, but to matter– to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you have lived at all.” – Leo Rosten
13) “If you want to touch the past, touch a rock. If you want to touch the present, touch a flower. If you want to touch the future, touch a life.” – Author Unknown
14) “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” — William Shakespeare
15) “The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves.” — Helen Keller
16) “Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.” – Elizabeth Andrew
17) “No one is more cherished in this world than someone who lightens the burden of another.” – Author Unknown
18) “The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.” – John E. Southard
19) “It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference. ” – Tom Brokaw
20) “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” – William James
21) “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” — Winston Churchill
22) “If you become a helper of hearts, springs of wisdom will flow from your heart.” – Rumi
23) “Volunteers are love in motion!” – Author Unknown
24) “The broadest, and maybe the most meaningful definition of volunteering: Doing more than you have to because you want to, in a cause you consider good. ” – Ivan Scheier
25) “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” –Anne Frank
26) “Being good is commendable, but only when it is combined with doing good is it useful.” – Author Unknown
27) “Help one another. There’s no time like the present, and no present like the time.” – James Durst
28) “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss
29) “I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.” – Mother Teresa
30) “While earning your daily bread, be sure you share a slice with those less fortunate.” –Quoted in P.S. I Love You, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
31) “One can pay back the loan of gold, but one dies forever in debt to those who are kind.” – Malayan Proverb
32) “At the end of the day it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished… it’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.” – Denzel Washington
33) “Even if you just change one life, you’ve changed the world forever.” – Mike Satterfield
34) “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” – Kahlil Gibran
35) “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” – Edward Everett Hale
36) “Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” – Author Unknown
37) “Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” – James Matthew Barrie
38) “What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” – Albert Pike
39) “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.” – Author Unknown
40) “The work an unknown good man has done is like a vein of water flowing hidden underground, secretly making the ground green.” – Thomas Carlyle
41) “Even if it’s a little thing, do something for those who have need of a man’s help– something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it. For, remember, you don’t live in a world all your own. Your brothers are here, too.” – Albert Schweitzer
42) “I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.” – Maya Angelou
43) “Kindness, like a boomerang, always returns.” – Author Unknown
44) “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” – Leo Buscaglia
45) “The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” –Nelson Henderson
46) “Not only must we be good, but we must also be good for something.” – Henry David Thoreau
47) “We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men.” – Herman Melville
48) “If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.” – Betty Reese
49) “Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.” – Seneca
50) “Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
BIO: Bret Love is a journalist/editor with 23 years of print and online experience, whose clients have ranged from the Atlanta Journal Constitution and American Airlines to National Geographic and Yahoo Travel. He is the co-founder of ecotourism website Green Global Travel and Green Travel Media.