"Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile."
-- Albert Einstein
Volunteering personal time to a cause, service, or other person can be very rewarding for various reasons, and in various ways. These reasons can be specific to the volunteer task, whether the person was recruited for the work or if they found it themselves, life stage of the volunteer, or even the motivation behind donating time. Although research has proved that volunteering affects each individual differently, it has also proved that the affects are typically positive. Within the research done on how volunteerism affects well-being a few major themes emerge: motivations behind volunteering, the affects of volunteerism on the volunteer, and duration and consistency of volunteer work.
The motivation behind volunteer work has been researched time and time again, and the findings show that social state, economic state and benefits are factors that affect the volunteer force. The most prevalent factor appears to be social and economic state of the volunteer. “People of higher social status have greater civic skills; thus they are more likely to be asked to volunteer. They may also be more motivated to volunteer, as they have a greater stake in the community” (Oesterle, Johnson & Mortimer, 2004) This research is considered the human capital theory, those who have a better education, more job training, and greater income have more resources to pull from, which in turn gives a higher benefit to the organization that is looking for a volunteer. “Human capital theory offers an explanation for why children inherit their parents' volunteering habits different from that found in motivation studies.” (Oesterle, Johnson & Mortimer, 2004) This is because children who grew up in a high status family are more likely to have the time, education, and network that allows them and indeed motivates them to volunteer their time and/or money.
Along these same lines, there is the social capital, which is a persons social network, which provides people with trust and information that can be useful in the perspective volunteers search for work and gives the place of volunteering the benefit of that same knowledge. The social capital theory says that we will do something if other people in our social networks are doing it and that is why those with greater social capital are more likely to volunteer than social isolates. People may begin volunteering because they are in need of a social network, or because their current friends are all volunteering and they want to be recognized as a member within their group.
Marital and employment status also affects motivation and reasoning behind volunteerism. “Married people are more likely to volunteer than single people, although single people without children volunteer the most hours.” (Wilson, 2000) Research proves that if one spouse volunteers, the other is much more likely to volunteer as well. Research has also shown that...