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5 reasons to volunteer in retirement

5 reasons to volunteer in retirement

Want a happy, active and meaningful retirement? It might be time to think about volunteering.

At last count, over a third of Australians were volunteers. The majority donated their time to sport and physical recreation, while 37% of those aged 65 years and over chose community and welfare organisations1.

The evidence shows that volunteering is not only good for the community – it’s also good for you.

Here are five reasons why:

1. Satisfaction

The saying ‘it’s better to give than receive’ is – well – true2.  In a survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), volunteers3 reported higher levels of life satisfaction than non-volunteers.  They also valued the sense of purpose that volunteering gave them4.

2. Connection with the community

If your workplace was your biggest connection to the community, retirement could easily lead to a sense of isolation. Volunteering allows you to mix with others in your community and is an easy way to instantly reconnect with people. Volunteers are more involved with their broader community than non-volunteers5.

3. Friendships

As you get older, it’s harder to stay in touch with former work colleagues, while other friends in your close circle may move away for a tree or sea change. Volunteering can give you an opportunity to create new friends — and give you plenty to talk about when you catch up with old ones.

4. Good mental health

Where the brain’s concerned, if you don’t use it, you lose it6. What’s more, caring about others and keeping our social networks strong are vital for good mental health7. Volunteering can help to keep you mentally active – so by taking care of others, you’re also taking care of yourself.

5. Enjoyment

Volunteering also allows you to do the things you’re passionate about, while bringing your experience to organisations that struggle to find resources.
For instance, if you love art or history, volunteer to be a tour guide at the local gallery or museum. Or if the environment’s your thing, contact Landcare or another local environmental group to see how you can help.

Volunteer – Find out more

To enrich your life by volunteering, contact an organisation that you’re interested in, or get in touch with Volunteers Australia.


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics 4441.0 – Voluntary Work, Australia, 2010
  2. Centre for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics,It’s good to be good: science says it’s so. Research demonstrates that people who help others usually have healthier, happier lives, 2009.
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics 4441.0 – Voluntary Work, Australia, 2010
  4. Volunteering Australia
  5. Australian Bureau of Statistics 4441.0 – Voluntary Work, Australia, 2010
  6. Valenzuela et al Multiple Biological Pathways Link Cognitive Lifestyle to Protection from Dementia, 2011
  7. Beyondblue

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