Benefits of Volunteering

“People who do volunteer work are much less likely to suffer illness. The close interpersonal relationships and community involvement that occur with volunteer service are tailor-made to enhance the healing process.”

—The Healing Power of Service by Edward V. Brown

  • Volunteering helps to rebuild communities and solve serious social problems. And, according to research, it can also improve your physical and mental health. Volunteer work improves the well-being of individual volunteers because it enhances social support networks. People with strong social support networks have lower premature death rates, less heart disease, and fewer health risk factors. (Fact Sheet: Volunteering as a Vehicle for Social Support and Life Satisfaction, Public Health Agency of Canada)
  • Volunteering can improve self-esteem, reduce heart rates and blood pressure, increase endorphin production, enhance immune systems, buffer the impact of stress, and combat social isolation. (Research Summary: Graff, L. (1991). Volunteer for the Health of It, Etobicoke, Ontario: Volunteer Ontario.)
  • Volunteering lowers the risk of physical ill health because it boosts the social psychological factors that healthy people have. (The Effects of Volunteering on the Volunteer, John Wilson and Marc Musik, 62 Law & Contemp. Probs., Autumn 1999)
  • Medical and scientific documentation supports that volunteering results in a heightened sense of well being, improves insomnia, strengthens the immune system, and hastens surgery recovery time. (The Healing Power of Doing Good, Allan Luks & Peggy Payne)
  • Volunteering puts people into highly social situations, increasing the opportunity for close interpersonal relationships and strengthening a sense of identity. (Peer Counseling Perspectives, April 2003 Survival News, Mary Lynn Hemphill, “Volunteer For Your Health”)
  • Volunteering also offers numerous health benefits specific to older adults. Volunteering gives older adults an opportunity to participate in fulfilling activities, which can make a difference in the lives of others. Helping to better situations for others contributes to healthy communities. Older adult volunteers feel a sense of community inclusion which has a positive impact on their health and overall well-being.
  • Volunteer activities help older adults improve self confidence and self-esteem, which helps reduce blood pressure and improves immune function. Volunteer activities help older adults form interpersonal ties and develop social networks. Like family and friends, these networks act as a buffer against stress and illness. Older adult volunteers live longer than non-volunteers. Studies report that engaging in regular volunteer work increases life expectancy because social interaction improves quality of life.

Helping others kindles happiness, as many studies have demonstrated. When researchers at the London School of Economics examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness in a large group of American adults, they found the more people volunteered, the happier they were, according to a study in Social Science and Medicine. Compared with people who never volunteered, the odds of being “very happy” rose 7% among those who volunteer monthly and 12% for people who volunteer every two to four weeks. Among weekly volunteers, 16% felt very happy—a hike in happiness comparable to having an income of $75,000–$100,000 versus $20,000, say the researchers. Giving time to religious organizations had the greatest impact.

At LAPBC, we rely heavily on the kindness and generosity of our volunteers and we wouldn't be the organization we are without them. If you are a legal professional and would like to explore what this means for you, please visit our Volunteers page.

Derek LaCroix
Derek LaCroix, KC, joined LAPBC as our Executive Director in 1996.