A survey released by UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group company, and VolunteerMatch identifies some of the key health benefits of volunteering. The UnitedHealthcare/VolunteerMatch Do Good. Live Well. Survey of more than 4,500 American adults found that 68 percent of those who volunteered in the past year report that volunteering has made them feel physically healthier.
Volunteering and Health:
Volunteers agree that volunteering helps them to lead healthier lives.
• 68% of volunteers agree that “volunteering has made me feel physically healthier.”
• 89% of volunteers agree that “volunteering has improved my sense of well-being.”
• 73% of volunteers agree that “volunteering lowers my stress levels.”
• 29% of volunteers who suffer from a chronic condition agree that “volunteering has helped me manage a chronic illness.”
• Volunteering appears to correspond to a healthier BMI. 34% of volunteers are considered to have an “average” BMI, compared to 27% of non-volunteers. In addition, a lower proportion of volunteers (31%) were identified as obese when compared to non-volunteers (36%).
Volunteering and Satisfaction with Life:
Volunteering appears to correspond with higher levels of life satisfaction – including a greater sense of meaning and purpose and higher levels of optimism.
• 92% of volunteers agree that volunteering enriches their sense of purpose in life.
• Volunteers are significantly more likely (72%) to characterize themselves as “optimistic” compared to non-volunteers (60%).
• They are also significantly more likely (36%) to rate their overall satisfaction with their lives as “very good” compared to non-volunteers (26%).
• Volunteers are significantly more likely (42%) to say they have a “very good” sense of meaning in their lives, compared to non-volunteers (28%).
• Volunteers are significantly more likely (40%) to say they have a “very good” sense of purpose in their life, compared to non-volunteers (27%).
Volunteering Rates and Relationship to Work:
Employers have an important role to play in encouraging volunteerism among their employees.
• 25% of those who volunteer do so through their place of work.
• Among those who volunteer through work: o 84% agree that “more people would volunteer if their employers helped provide the means and the motivation.”
o 81% agree that “volunteering with work colleagues has strengthened our relationships.”
o 76% agree that “I feel better about my employer because of their involvement in my volunteer activities.”
o 21% agree that “I would not be a volunteer if it wasn’t for my employer.”
o 88% of all volunteers agree that volunteering provides networking/career development opportunities.
Volunteerism in America
• More than four in every 10 Americans (41%) have volunteered in the last year (e.g., engaged in unpaid service activities, not including giving money or donations).
• 69% of Americans have made donations to an organization in the past year.
• 44% of Americans report that they intend to volunteer in 2010, with many citing “the opportunity to make a difference” as the motivation.