Celebrating Volunteers' Week: the benefits to volunteers

3 June 2015

Yesterday we shared some information about the economic value that volunteering can create, but there are also private benefits for individual volunteers, and they may be even greater than volunteers might expect.

Benefits for volunteers

Survey data have shown there is a wide range of personal benefits from volunteering: a sense of satisfaction, achievement and enjoyment, new experiences and skills, meeting people and making friends, reducing stress and improving confidence, as well as improving physical health. 

In his speech In giving, how much do we receive? The social value of volunteering, Andy Haldane outlines the three main categories of benefit: enhanced well-being; health benefits; and increased skills and employability.

Recent research has shown that volunteering has a huge impact on life satisfaction, with volunteering ranking third, below just health and employment prospects.

But volunteering can also positively impact both health (mental health particularly) and employment prospects. And while the evidence of the impact of volunteering on employability is mixed, feedback from some of our volunteers, and their employers tells a positive story about their experience:

"I think it’s fair to say that for all the team working on this project the experience has renewed our passion and interest in economics. I got to roll up my sleeves and get to work on the data, which as a manager I don’t always have the time to do. Working in a team also enabled me to develop new skills because I could see how my colleagues tackled certain issues and learnt from them. I was able to bring this new insight and skills back into my day job." Andrea Lee, Department of Health

"We have had the opportunity to broaden our own professional skills across a complex and fascinating set of issues."  Patrick Curry and Ben Gill, HMT

But people who volunteer do so because they know they will reap these benefits, right? Well maybe, but research also shows that people tend to underestimate the benefit they receive from giving to others. So, if you volunteer, you might get back more than you had ever thought you would. Another good reason to celebrate Volunteers' Week!

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