We know that volunteer wellbeing is a topical issue right now, but it should also be a central part of the life cycle of a volunteer’s interaction within an organisation or volunteering programme.

A comprehensive report in which existing literature (158 international studies about the subject of the well-being impacts of volunteering) were reviewed to explore the effects of formal volunteering on subjective well-being for different population groups and different types and levels of volunteering. The full report is available on our research page, but it is very long.

This research has been summarised into a useful short report “Volunteer Wellbeing: What Works and Who Benefits?” It explores the relationship between volunteering and wellbeing, and the factors that can influence the wellbeing of volunteers.

Another useful tool that has come out of this research is a simple theory of change template that community organisations can use to approach volunteer wellbeing.

The report identifies several key findings:

  1. Volunteering can have a positive impact on wellbeing: volunteering can have a positive impact on the wellbeing of volunteers, including improved mental health, increased life satisfaction, and increased feelings of happiness and social connectedness.
  2. The impact of volunteering on wellbeing can vary depending on a range of factors: including the type of volunteering activity, the level of involvement, and the individual’s motivation for volunteering.
  3. Benefits of volunteering are not limited to the individual volunteer: the benefits of volunteering can extend beyond the individual volunteer to the wider community, including increased social cohesion and community connectedness.
  4. Volunteering can benefit individuals from diverse backgrounds: including those who may be socially isolated or facing disadvantage.
  5. Organisations can support volunteer wellbeing by providing a supportive and inclusive environment: including opportunities for skill development, recognition and appreciation, and meaningful roles and responsibilities.

Overall, the report highlights the potential for volunteering to have a positive impact on the wellbeing of individuals and communities. The findings suggest that organisations can support volunteer wellbeing by providing opportunities for diverse and meaningful volunteering roles, creating a supportive and inclusive environment, and recognising and appreciating the contributions of volunteers.