Research > Volunteering

Volunteering research, statistics & quotes

“Volunteers are not paid – not because they are worthless, but because they’re priceless”

Volunteering has a high Economic ROI

For every dollar invested in volunteering, $4 in benefits are returned to the community.

State of Volunteering in Tasmania Report 2014


Dr Lisel O’Dwyer (University of Adelaide) estimated the dollar value of the contributions made by Australian volunteers in 2006 and 2010, based on the average annual number of hours worked multiplied by the average wage rate. She estimated that:  

  • in 2006, formal volunteering (excluding travel) was worth $19.4 billion to the Australian economy.  
  • in 2010, formal volunteering (excluding travel) was worth $25.4 billion to the Australian economy. Notes on adjusted value: Dr O’Dwyer also argued that because the value of volunteering is attached to a multiplicity of outcomes, one hour of a volunteer’s time should be valued not just once, but several times (to account for other entities that benefit from the volunteer’s time). Based on this reasoning, she estimated an adjusted total value of volunteering in 2010 at around $200 billion (using a multiplier of 25% of the average hourly rate multiplied by four entities).

Volunteering is good for your health

  • In 2010, 38% of adult women volunteered (3.24 million women) and 34% of adult men volunteered (2.85 million men)
  • 40% of adults with a self-assessed health status of ‘excellent/very good’ volunteered, compared with 26% for those with a health status of ‘fair/poor.’

Giving Trends Volunteering Report & Volunteering Australia

"...almost all young participants in social action feel a ‘double benefit’ (93%), in that they say they benefitted personally and considered that other people benefitted from their activities. The most commonly cited personal benefit of taking part in youth social action is that young people enjoy helping others (mentioned by 71% of those who felt a personal benefit)."

IPSOS Mori - Youth Social Action in the UK 2016


Volunteering Australia has compiled the following facts about volunteering and happiness:

  • Volunteers are happier, healthier and sleep better than those who don’t volunteer – doctors should recommend it.
  • 96% of volunteers say that it “makes people happier.”
  • 95% of volunteers say that volunteering is related to feelings of wellbeing.
  • Volunteering results in a “helper’s high,” a powerful physical and emotional feeling experienced when directly helping others.
  • Just a few hours of volunteer work makes a difference in happiness and mood.
  • Sustained volunteering is associated with better mental health.
  • Altruistic emotions and behaviours are associated with greater well-being, health, and longevity.
  • A strong correlation exists between the well-being, happiness, health, and longevity of people who are emotionally kind and compassionate in their charitable helping activities.
  • The experience of helping others provides meaning, a sense of self-worth, a social role and health enhancement.
  • Volunteering is highly associated with greater health and happiness.

(From Indicators of Community Strength in Victoria, op. cit., and Australian Government, National Volunteering Strategy, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, 2011, p. 8 &12 lxi State of Volunteering in Australia 2012, op. cit., p. 7-8)

"When Canadian tenth-graders in a recent study began volunteering at an after-school program for children, the high schoolers lost weight and had improved cholesterol profiles compared to their non-volunteering peers."


Volunteers spend fewer nights in the hospital and more likely to use preventive health care services.


Researchers found that those who performed more acts of kindness throughout the day were less likely to report negative emotions. They were also able to maintain their positive emotions. However, during the days in which they were not able to perform kind acts, the participants reported a decrease in positive emotions in response to daily stressors.

"Our research shows that when we help others we can also help ourselves," Emily Ansell said in a press release.
"Findings suggest that affiliative behavior may be an important component of coping with stress and indicate that engaging in prosocial behavior might be an effective strategy for reducing the impact of stress on emotional functioning,"


In this study, engaging in volunteer activities halted and, in men, reversed declines in brain volume in regions vulnerable to dementia.

Workplace Volunteering

  • 70% of millennial employees spent at least an hour volunteering in 2014
  • 79% of millennial employees who had volunteered through a company-sponsored initiative felt
  • 65% were more likely to volunteer if their coworkers participated they had made a difference through their involvement.
  • 77% of millennial employees said they are more likely to volunteer if they can use their specific skills or expertise to benefit a cause.

Tips to motivate millennial volunteering

  • Participate in an onboarding/orientation process when Millennials are first hired to better understand the volunteer opportunities their company offers
  • Should be recognised for service and participation in community/cause project in and outside of work
  • Develop volunteer programs with peers and submit for corporate recognition of the outcome and impact
  • Find a framework to design a custom skills-based volunteer opportunities with co-workers
  • Put Millennials on advisory boards so they have a seat at the table and can offer insight into your company’s cause initiatives

The Millennial Impact Report 2015