Because it’s good for you and the community you serve. Everyday our volunteers positively impact the lives of children through tutoring and mentoring; impact the lives of elderly and disabled adults by providing companionship, impact nonprofit organizations by building capacity and impact veterans by providing peer support and countless other services to residents of Broward County. But don’t take just our word for it…
Health Benefits of Volunteering
According to the report “Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research” by the Corporation for National and Community Services over the past two decades, a growing body of research indicates that volunteering provides not just social benefits, but individual health benefits as well. This research has established a strong relationship between volunteering and health: those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer. Some key findings from this research, along with an analysis of the relationship between volunteering and incidence of mortality and heart disease at the state level are presented.
- Research has found that volunteering provides older adults, (those age 60 or older), with greater benefits than younger volunteers. These benefits include improved physical and mental health and greater life satisfaction.
- Researchers have found that there is a “volunteering threshold” for health benefits. That is to say, volunteers must be engaged in a certain amount of volunteering in order to derive health benefits from the volunteer activities. Once that threshold is met, no additional health benefits are acquired by doing volunteering more. The definition of considerable volunteering has been variously defined by these studies as 1) volunteering with two or more organizations; 2) 100 hours or more of volunteer activities per year; and 3) at least 40 hours of volunteering per year.
- Evidence indicates that volunteering has a positive effect on social psychological factors, such as a personal sense of purpose and accomplishment, and enhances a person’s social networks to buffer stress and reduce disease risk.
- Volunteering and physical well-being are part of a positive reinforcing cycle.
- A number of studies demonstrate that those individuals who volunteer at an earlier point experience greater functional ability and better health outcomes later in life, even when the studies control for other factors, such as socioeconomic status and previous illness.
- Researchers have also found that when patients with chronic or serious illness volunteer, they receive benefits beyond what can be achieved through medical care.
- Health and volunteering data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Center for Disease Control, find that states with a high volunteer rate also have lower rates of mortality and incidences of heart disease. When comparing states, a general trend shows that health problems are more prevalent in states where volunteer rates are lowest.
- Studies of the relationship between volunteering and health demonstrate that there is a significant relationship between volunteering and good health: when older adults volunteer, they not only help their community but also experience better health in later years, whether in terms of greater longevity, higher functional ability, or lower rates of depression.
- These findings are important as there are 77 million baby boomers entering into retirement. In order to keep those Baby Boomers who already volunteer, serving in the future substantial, challenging, and fulfilling volunteer experiences must be offered. The results of such efforts will not only help solve community problems, but simultaneously enhance the health of the growing number of older adults.
Impact Broward believes in the importance of collaboration in a community whose residents depend on vital support. To be a part of the incredible difference being made every day in Broward County, please contact us today.