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[PAY IT FORWARD?] Some volunteer activities don't yield life satisfaction

Recent research from Mather Institute explores the extent to which volunteerism impacts life satisfaction. A survey of approximately 400 participants ages 55 and above asked about their volunteer activities, including fundraising, tutoring, helping friends or neighbors, and more. Findings reveal that some activities are associated with greater life satisfaction—and those activities are not the most popular forms of volunteering.

Specifically, the research distinguishes between formal volunteering (e.g., when older adults tutor school-age children, participate in local food drives, provide professional assistance) and informal volunteering (e.g., helping a neighbor, caring for grandchildren, driving a friend to a medical appointment). The survey explored how formal volunteering compares to informal volunteering in imparting psychological benefits, and strategies for individuals and aging services providers to increase life satisfaction through specific types of volunteering.

After looking at how frequently older adults volunteer, the most common types of volunteering activities, and life satisfaction between the two types of volunteering, the researchers concluded that both formal and informal volunteering increase life satisfaction. However, while older adults are less likely to engage in formal volunteering, the benefits of formal volunteering are greater.

The findings also showed that older adults are commonly engaging in volunteering activities that aren’t likely to increase life satisfaction. For example, while fundraising is most likely to increase life satisfaction, faction, it is tied with engaging in labor as the fifth most popular volunteering activity.  Further, while respondents were very likely to experience the life satisfaction associated with mentoring young people or tutoring and teaching, they were least likely to engage in these activities. Strategies to help volunteers maximize life satisfaction from their volunteer activities are explored in the report.

To download the report, "The Value of Volunteering," click here and fill out the form.


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The ICAA welcomes your news submissions. Please send your press releases to colinmilner@icaa.cc-the ICAA's email for submissions-and staff will consider your news for possible publication. Newsworthy topics include such things as center/community openings; initiative or campaign launches; announcements of awards, promotions or grants; and other topics of interest to active-aging professionals.



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