A new report, Happy Days, has just been released by the data consultancy and social enterprise, Jump, that examines new data and larger sample sizes to understand the relationship between volunteering and wellbeing, and in particular the causal link between the two. 

The headline findings of the report are that:

  • There is a positive association between volunteering and life satisfaction, roughly equal in size to one-sixth of the association with full-time employment and comparable to lifting an individual out of a deprived neighbourhood

  • The wellbeing measure most strongly associated with volunteering is the sense that the things one does in life are worthwhile. One can hypothesize that the channel through which volunteering increases life satisfaction is by giving more meaning to one’s life. However, volunteering is also correlated with higher anxiety level

  • More frequent volunteering is associated with a higher wellbeing uplift. For volunteering at least once a week it is almost three times higher than for volunteering several times a year

  • Formal volunteering is much more strongly associated with wellbeing than informal volunteering. The wellbeing association with formal volunteering at least once a month is comparable to moving from self-employment to paid employment or from cohabitation to marriage. 

One of the authors of the blog, Will Watt, has written a blog here.