Many people plan to do some form of volunteering after they retire. As we learnt in What is a silver economy? it’s estimated older people contributed a total of $8.5 billion to their communities through unpaid and voluntary work in New Zealand. Over 65s have spent hours visiting older people, delivering meals, taking care of elderly parents or neighbours or assisting with childcare. This voluntary contribution is projected to grow to $35 billion by 2051.
Not only does volunteering have a positive impact on the economy, but also the community. It is safe to say New Zealand could not function without the huge amount of volunteer hours New Zealanders put in. While it’s easy to see the positive impact that volunteers have on others, we often do not consider how rewarding it can be for the volunteer themselves to reach out and make a difference in someone’s life.
Volunteering can also help older people make new social connections. According to a study by Merrill Lynch found that around 85% of retiree volunteers said that they had developed new friendships through their volunteer activities.
The same study found that approximately 70 percent of retirees say that being generous provides a significant source of happiness. Most volunteers reported that helping other brings them more happiness than spending money on themselves. Retirees who are active in charities also have a stronger sense of purpose and higher self-esteem. You are able to have a positive influence in someone’s life.
Volunteering may provide older people with opportunities and experiences that they may not otherwise encounter. The options are endless. You could decide to utilise your existing gardening skills to support a local conservation project, help out at a fundraising event for your favourite charity, or support those going through difficult times by answering calls to a helpline – you will have new experiences, meet new people and even learn new skills.
Find more information about volunteering in New Zealand click here
To find current options for volunteering click here.