The Benefits of Volunteering
by Summer Bessent
To kick off the new year, many people take part in the tradition of setting new year’s resolutions. Resolutions are often focused on continuing good practices, trying new things, changing or breaking bad habits, and accomplishing set goals.
Some of the most popular new year’s resolutions are to live an overall healthier life, reduce stress, and pick up a new hobby. There’s one specific resolution that can check all off those boxes, and that is to volunteer!
Volunteering is a great way to improve the community you live in and serve, but it also has countless benefits to the volunteers themselves! An evidence brief published by Habitat for Humanity International, The Value of Volunteering (2022), dived into survey and research results to explore the value of volunteering and found some incredible statistics.
Over 25% of adults in the United States are engaged in some sort of volunteer service, and the benefits that these volunteers see in themselves and their lives as a result are quite compelling. Overall, HFHI found that, “Volunteering is associated with improved health and well-being,” (HFHI, pg. 2).
This includes increased longevity, the adoption of healthy lifestyle practices, increased life satisfaction, and reductions in stress and mental illnesses (such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder). Volunteering can also provide many opportunities for skill development and exploration of new fields of work. Research has even found that volunteering has been associated with increased success in job searching. HFHI (2022) reported that in one specific study, data showed that 82% of hiring managers were actually “more likely” to hire applicants that had volunteer experience compared to those who did not.
By breaking down the data that HFHI gathered even further, they were able to highlight distinct benefits that specific populations receive from volunteering. They touched on college volunteers, the elderly, women, and post 9/11 veterans. Below are some of the findings for each group.
College Age Volunteers
“Volunteering during college is correlated with personal growth, environmental mastery, purpose in life and life satisfaction. The relationship between regular volunteering and like satisfaction is strongest among those volunteers who reported lower initial levels of well-being,” (HFHI, pg. 2).
“In one study, 20% of volunteers 51 and older reported that their health was better since joining a volunteer program, while 50% of volunteers reported that they were overall ‘better off’ since joining the program,” (HFHI, pg. 2).
“In adults who are 60 and older, volunteering is associated with lower risks of cognitive decline over time,” (HFHI, pg. 5).
“Women who volunteer see an increase in future wages. An additional year of volunteer experience is associated with an increase in wages of 8.3% for part-time work and 2.4% for full-time work,” (HFHI, pg. 5).
Post 9/11 Veterans
“For post 9/11 veterans, volunteering provides mental, physical, and social benefits. Those who participated in a formal volunteering engagement saw improvements in overall health, purpose in life, self-efficiency and perceived social support, and reductions in post-traumatic stress disorder and depression,” (HFHI, pg. 5).
All the pros to volunteering listed in this article only scratch the surface. Regardless of your age, race, or gender, there is something that everyone can gain from volunteering. The most important thing is surely the difference that you can make in the lives of others and your community as a whole, but we cannot ignore the value that volunteering has on the volunteers as well.
If you are looking for a new year’s resolution, a new hobby, a way to make new friends, or you simply want to make a difference in the world, volunteering is a great place to start.
If you are interested in volunteering with Habitat for Humanity of Horry County, please reach out to us at [email protected] or at (843) 650-8815.
Click HERE to read the full evidence brief published by HFHI, The Value of Volunteering (2022).
The Value of Volunteering. Habitat for Humanity. (2022). Retrieved January 9, 2022, from https://www.habitat.org/sites/default/files/documents/Value-of-Volunteering-EvidenceBrief.pdf