Volunteering Increases Happiness

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People who volunteer tend to be happier than those that don’t. Is that because happier people volunteering or that volunteering can make you happy? It turns out that volunteering does increase your happiness. Researchers found that the average volunteer gets a happiness equivalent to a salary boost of $1,100 USD.

So volunteering helps the world and it helps you too. So what are you waiting for? Go volunteer!

Evidence of the correlation between volunteering and wellbeing has been gradually accumulating, but to date this research has had limited success in accounting for the factors that are likely to drive self-selection into volunteering by ‘happier’ people. To better isolate the impact that volunteering has on people’s wellbeing, we explore nationally representative UK household datasets with an extensive longitudinal component, to run panel analysis which controls for the previous higher or lower levels of SWB that volunteers report. Using first-difference estimation within the British Household Panel Survey and Understanding Society longitudinal panel datasets (10 waves spanning about 20 years), we are able to control for higher prior levels of wellbeing of those who volunteer, and to produce the most robust quasi-causal estimates to date by ensuring that volunteering is associated not just with a higher wellbeing a priori, but with a positive change in wellbeing. Comparison of equivalent wellbeing values from previous studies shows that our analysis is the most realistic and conservative estimate to date of the association between volunteering and subjective wellbeing, and its equivalent wellbeing value of £911 per volunteer per year on average to compensate for the wellbeing increase associated with volunteering. It is our hope that these values can be incorporated into decision-making at the policy and practitioner level, to ensure that the societal benefits provided by volunteering are better understood and internalised into decisions.

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Volunteering Improves Your Mental Health

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Volunteering is good for others, and it’s good for the volunteers too. People all have difference reasons for volunteering in their communities and whatever motivates them clearly helps others too. What’s really interesting is that it turns out that volunteers are rewarded by better mental health. Yes, volunteering can help people deal with depression and provide a clearer purpose in life.

It’s generally understood that helping out others makes a person feel nice, but that experience goes beyond just the feel-good glow of altruism. Studies have found that helping others has tangible benefits, both mental and physical, from lowering your blood pressure to reducing feelings of depression. And research hasn’t found any significant difference in the types of volunteering—any kind of helpful act can create benefits.

“Research has shown that there’s evidence volunteer work promotes that psychological well being you’re talking about,” Rodlescia Sneed, a public health research associate at Michigan State University who has studied the impacts of volunteering. “In my own work I’ve shown it’s linked to improvements in factors like depressive symptoms, purpose in life, and feelings of optimism.”

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A Bold, Bodacious Beard Club

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Beards are wonderful. I say this not has a biased individual who has a beard, but has a person who understands that beards are more than they seem. In the province of Newfoundland there is a beard club that spends their time making the world a better place. The best part of beard club is that you must tell everybody about, and that anybody is welcome – no beard even needed!

“Instead of paying dues or anything, like a lot of groups do, how about we give back to the community? And one of the great ways, especially with [Hai’s] history with Project Kindness, is volunteering,” he said.

“So once a month we’re gonna get together, do some volunteering, do some volunteering on our own. It’s just a great way to give back to the community.”

Group members share some beard-care tips amongst themselves, and are hopeful the trend expands further.

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CUSO-VSO Looking for More Adult Volunteers

CUSO is a Canadian-based non-profit that sends people oversees as volunteers to help the developing world. Recently as a drive to get more adults to help them out (you know you want to) they have produced a couple videos to show their work.

Every year, around 120,000 young Peruvians join the ranks of those who are neither studying nor employed. There just isn’t enough work, and many can’t afford schooling.

But despite the obstacles that life puts before them, many youth in San Juan de Miraflores — a poor neighbourhood of Lima, Peru — are creating a better future for themselves and their families.

Three youth and a Canadian volunteer involved in an innovative Youth Employment Centre in San Juan agreed to tell their stories.

‘Jacky’s Story’ is the first of three videos following youth and volunteers involved in the Centros de Jovenes y Empleo. The centre is a collaboration of CUSO-VSO, the Quebec NGO Carrefour Jeunesse Emploi de l’Outaouais, and the Peruvian NGO Kallpa.

If you’re not Canadian, and many readers aren’t, perhaps there is an organization in your country similar to CUSO-VSO.

Link to CUSO-VSO

Organization Positivity

Dr. Beth Cabrera is all about making the workplace a more positive space for people and lucky for us she has a blog informing people on positive changes they can make!

Here’s a more recent post on how volunteering helps organizations, companies, and individuals:

In addition to lifting employees up, volunteering can also help them to develop new skills that can be transferred to their jobs. Volunteers build leadership capabilities, hone their communication skills, and learn to work with people from a wide range of backgrounds. Another benefit is that employees who volunteer together develop closer relationships. This is especially valuable when employees from different organizational levels or departments have the opportunity to work together. So it isn’t surprising that a recent study in Germany found that employees who volunteer not only are more satisfied, but they perform better at work.

Volunteering can be equally beneficial for college students. I graduated from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee not too long ago. I was proud to see that Rhodes topped Newsweeks’ 2010 list of “Most service-minded schools”. Rhodes has always had a strong commitment to service. The Kinney Program, based on volunteerism, leadership and civic engagement, was established in the 1950’s and Rhodes has the oldest collegiate chapter of Habitat for Humanity in the country. The newer Bonner Scholars Program focuses on service-learning, social change and servant leadership. The positive emotions that Rhodes students experience through volunteering provide benefits that help them to excel in school. Volunteering also teaches them skills that will help them to be successful after they graduate.

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