5 min read
19 April 2024

What You Get When You Give Back: 10 Reasons Volunteering is Good for You

Susan Fuehr, Communications Consultant

You love Toronto and you want to help the city become a better place, but how? Volunteering.
The only cost to you is your time, but what you get in return is priceless.

Got questions? Read our Volunteering FAQ

Toronto volunteers are at the heart of what we do. We have more than 700 volunteers who contributed 15,048 hours of their time last year alone! We asked our experts about the benefits of volunteering. It turns out volunteering is good for your health, social life, and even your career.

1. Good for Physical Health

Volunteering gets you out of the house and moving around the city. That, in itself, is a huge health benefit, especially for seniors.

Research shows that those who volunteer spend 38 per cent less time in hospital than those who don’t. Volunteering reduces feelings of stress, anxiety and anger, each of which is associated with multiple health ailments.

Studies have also shown that volunteering after middle age cuts mortality rates nearly in half (between 24 and 47 per cent)!

There is now discussion of whether doctors should actually prescribe volunteering as part of health care.

2. Good for Mental Health

There is often the assumption that only ‘happy’ people volunteer; research contradicts that, finding that volunteering actually leads to happiness.

two women wearing dark tshirts smile playfully

3. Create a Sense of Purpose

Many volunteers say they have found a new sense of purpose through volunteering.
Whether you are new in a city, have recently lost a spouse, or are feeling adrift in life, volunteering can give you a sense of purpose. Once you see how others benefit from you showing up for them, it gives you motivation to get up, get dressed, and get out into the world.

4. Find a Sense of Belonging

Becoming a part of something, especially something that you feel passionately about, is an incredible feeling. There are people who value what you do and would miss you if you weren’t there. At WoodGreen, you become part of our team and your contribution has real value, not only to us as an organization but also to the Canadian economy.

The most recent figures estimate 12.7 million Canadians, or roughly 44 per cent of the population over age 15, volunteered at least some of their time each year. It is estimated that nationwide, Canadians contribute $56 billion in volunteer work annually.

four women, all with long dark hair stand in a white cardboard frame reading WoodGreen Volunteers

5. Gain a Sense of Gratitude

Volunteering in Toronto, particularly at WoodGreen, can teach you a lot about your city and the people who live in it. By helping serve some of Toronto’s most vulnerable citizens, our volunteers see up close that what they are doing makes a real difference to real people.

Often volunteers say they’ve met people and learned about cultures and circumstances they might never have been exposed to. Frequently we hear that our volunteers appreciate Toronto and its diversity and their role as residents more since volunteering.

6. Build Skills

A lot is made about how others benefit when you volunteer, but there is a lot to be gained from volunteering.
This can be particularly relevant to youth or new Canadians looking to develop skills and gain valuable Canadian work experience.

For example, if you are interested in finance and have some skills you’d like to hone, volunteering for our Free Income Tax Clinic provides hands-on experience you can use in the future.
Interested in working in Human Relations and looking to build skills reviewing resumes and practice interviewing and hiring? Volunteer to be a Resume Support Volunteer or a Mock Interviewer Volunteer.

a woman in a black jacket sits at a desk facing a man on a laptop computer

7. Become a Desirable Job Candidate

Canadians place great value on volunteering, with 87 per cent of Canadians saying that it is vital to the well-being of our country and Canada would suffer without it.

Employers are no different; your choice to volunteer tells them a lot about who you are.

Volunteering shows employers you are dedicated, hard-working, committed and value kindness to others. It shows you are interested in improving both yourself and your community.

Volunteering is also an effective way to fill in gaps in your resume and organizations can be a source for references during a job search.

Companies are increasingly moving toward employer-sponsored volunteer programs because they know that when presented with two similar job offers, 68 per cent of candidates will opt for the company they believe has the better volunteer culture.

two children and four women are in a festively decorated room in front of a large window

8. Strengthen Networks

The children’s song asks, “Who are the people in your neighbourhood?”. Volunteering can help expand your network of connections. The role those connections play can vary depending on where you’re at in life.

For young people connecting with others can often be about expanding potential job opportunities. Canadian companies say 67 per cent of their hiring comes from employee referrals and not open job postings, making networking a crucial part of career-building.
The same applies for many newcomers to Canada, who can also gain valuable friendships, support systems and a sense of community belonging by volunteering.

Volunteering in Toronto is very valuable for seniors, especially for those who are out of the workforce and no longer raising children at home. Bigger networks of friends and acquaintances help combat a growing epidemic of loneliness among Canada’s seniors.

9. Build Confidence

When you volunteer, you are giving of your time, but also your skills and your passion. Seeing the impact that can have on people helps build confidence that you can take on new challenges, work with new people, learn new skills and commit to a schedule.

A change in life circumstances such as losing a partner, divorce, layoff, illness or trauma can shake anyone’s confidence and leave you wondering if you can face adversity again.

Volunteering is a low-stress, low-expectation way to regain your confidence in your abilities and value to yourself and others.

a man is standing in a conference room while 4 women are sitting with three of them raising their hands

10. Improve Language Skills and Gain Canadian Experience

Getting that elusive first job in Canada can be daunting for newcomers to Canada. Volunteering takes some of the stress out of that.

It allows you to practice your language skills and learn about Canadian working culture in a low-risk way.

Statistics Canada found that 64 per cent of newcomers who volunteered said their interpersonal skills had improved through volunteering while 44 per cent said it improved their communication skills.

Volunteering is a gift you give to others but yourself, benefitting your physical, mental, social and economic health.

Plus, it also just feels good to do good.

If you are looking to volunteer in Toronto, your timing is perfect.

WoodGreen is looking for volunteers to help in several areas of our organization.

See if one is right for you or reach out and we’ll find a place for you as part of the WoodGreen family.

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