Jump to Content
Knowledge Lab logo

I’m thinking of volunteering. What are the benefits?

Not only does volunteering have a positive impact on the economy, but also the community and the volunteers themselves. The most common reasons people give for doing voluntary work are: being helpful to others, “paying back” to society, and having a sense of obligation to the future generations. It is safe to say New Zealand could not function without the huge amount of volunteer hours New Zealanders put in. While it's commonly thought that volunteering is a great role for those who are 'retired', people from all stages of life do voluntary work. The older age group do however need to be acknowledged for the contribution they make  - by 2036 it is estimated that those over 65 will contribute 25 billion worth of unpaid or voluntary work to New Zealand’s economy.

It’s easy to see the positive impact that volunteers have on others, however 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. 

Social Connections

Volunteering can keep older people active and socially engaged and may help them with some of the challenges (and opportunities) of retirement. The majority of retiree volunteers said that they had developed new friendships through their volunteer activities.

Emotional well-being

Most volunteers reported that helping others brings them more happiness than spending money on themselves. Those who are active in charities also have a stronger sense of purpose and higher self-esteem, as they  have a positive influence in someone's life. 

Continued learning

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.

Older retirees report being empowered because of learning new skills and improving their knowledge. Many organisations, for example, embraced new technologies and online ways of volunteering as a result of the COVID pandemic.

See also : Volunteering in an ageing population:  The benefits of volunteering for the  well-being of older persons from Volunteer NZ  

Find more information about volunteering in New Zealand click here 

To find current options for volunteering click here.

Updated: 5 Feb 2024
Was this resource helpful?