The Five Love Languages of Volunteerism

Valentine’s Day is upon us.

Chocolate, flowers and pink-shaded-everything has been everywhere since the second day of the new year. Of course these tangible gifts are meant to represent the affection we have for the important people in our lives. We take the time to do things for them based on their likes and dislikes – maybe your partner enjoys fuzzy animals that dance and sing random love songs and they know that you appreciate a night out for dinner.

If you think about it, the process of choosing a nonprofit to volunteer with is simply finding an organization to give to based on your likes and dislikes. Let’s say you would like to spend your Valentine’s Day volunteering. You may first consider your interests- maybe you’re into art or cooking. Would you rather work with kittens, or young people? From there your choice may depend on what you will be doing. Perhaps a project requires graphic design or knitting skills. You may take into consideration the flexibility of the event; Is this an ongoing project? Will it be face to face?

There are so many questions that go on in the back of your mind that you may not even realize!

A method some couples use to pinpoint each other’s likes and dislikes is a quiz called the 5 Love Languages assessment. As someone eager to help the community you too can figure out what kind of organization fits your philanthropic soul. Based on the best selling book by Gary Chapman, the 5 Love Languages quiz evaluates your answers and classifies you as someone who appreciates Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving gifts, Quality Time, or Physical Touch. Let’s take a look at how these love categories coincide with your love for volunteering and causes!


Words of Affirmation

Feb 10, 2017 10-17-39 copyGary Chapman says that a person who values words of affirmation is someone who tends to show their love by giving words of encouragement. Thinking in terms of volunteering, they may feel the most gratification from answering suicide or general help hotlines. These individuals would likely feel comfortable with public speaking on behalf of an organization to recruit other volunteers. They would enjoy working with any nonprofit that’s in the business of uplifting others through verbal communication.

If this sounds like you, Check out this opportunity to be a Domestic Violence Hotline Advocate for the Compass Center for Women and Families.


Acts of Service

An individual who shows how much they care through acts of service is someone who is always ready to contribute to everything. For these people actions speak louder than words. This volunteer would thrive off of projects that require a laundry list of tasks. Volunteering with a thrift store that needs organizing or a food bank with a fresh shipment of goods would be an ideal project for them.




If you identify with this love language, check out this opportunity with The Salvation Army of Durham.


Receiving gifts

Feb 10, 2017 10-13-48Chapman says “For some people, what makes them feel most loved is to receive a gift”. From a volunteer’s perspective this is a person who needs to immediately see that the work they are doing is making an impact. This volunteer would not enjoy sorting through items; they relish the reaction that comes from the job they are doing. The smile they receive from the elderly person they deliver meals to or the squeal of joy from a child they just handed a toy to is just like a gift for them to receive. 





You could get plenty of appreciative smiles if you volunteer to provide a meal at the Urban Ministries Woman’s Shelter


Quality Time

Feb 10, 2017 10-14-07This language is all about giving undivided attention. This person enjoys making a commitment to one organization over a long period of time. If they had to volunteer for a day they would feel more comfortable with interacting with one person or one small group of people in order to make a connection. They may like going through the process of planning events because of the time commitment and the satisfaction they would feel once the project is executed and done well. They would likely enjoy volunteer work that requires daily, weekly or monthly activity like walking dogs from the local kennel, using their skills to organize a fundraiser or even accepting membership as a board member.


A purrfect opportunity for this group would be with Purr Partners Feline Rescue as a Kitty Transport and Delivery volunteer.


Physical Touch

Feb 10, 2017 10-14-28People who value physical touch are in need of face to face interaction. They would be similar to gift-receivers in that they enjoy interacting with stakeholders directly but different in that it is the interaction in itself rather than the reaction that satisfies them. 



Serving as a mentor is a great way for those who enjoy direct interaction to give back; check out this opportunity with the Elizabeth Edwards Foundation!


As you can see, taking the 5 Love Languages assessment is applicable beyond intimate relationships because it allows you to pinpoint how you enjoy connecting with others. When I took the quiz I had two top scores of Acts of Service and Quality Time. This fit my emotional and volunteer self; I thrive off of the idea that I can always do more. If I like someone I enjoy investing my time in them; involvement on a long term basis allows me to make a connection with the people of an organization and the project at hand.

This Valentine’s day I challenge you to take the 5 Love Languages assessment to improve your relationships with your loved ones and think about how you can apply what you learn to become a hero in your community.