Making a difference for both parties

01 July 2015

While some may spend most of their working life dedicated to a cause they feel passionate about, many Australians fulfill the desire to give something back to their communities through volunteer work. According to a 2010 Voluntary Work survey, carried out by Volunteering Australia, 36.2% did so and many of them found their experiences were as rewarding for themselves as for the organisations they volunteered with.

Many volunteers claim to lead happier, more satisfying lives and Australian seniors are no exception.

Seniors lead the volunteer base

According to the same survey, those over 65 account for almost half of the country’s volunteer hours – the highest proportion of any age group. For many, it’s viewed as a huge benefit of retirement and a way of getting involved with something they care about.

Interestingly, the older we get, the more time we are willing to give to volunteering. A 2012 National Seniors’ retirement planning report of those over 50 found that 52% of pre-retirees were intending to spend their post-
employment years engaged in volunteer work.

In fact, volunteering in retirement is so popular that a number of charitable Australian organisations actively target retirees to recruit to their volunteering ranks.

While some seniors admit to taking on too much, most insist that it’s a major contributor to keeping them happy and healthy, as well giving them a sense of purpose. This is backed by a great deal of research, which shows that seniors who volunteer are likely to have better physical and mental health, as well as live longer.

Cost versus reward

However, although older Australians are keen to volunteer, some report that barriers to doing so include ageism, transport and other costs.

The financial cost of helping out in person can make some seniors feel that a more feasible way of giving back to the community is to bequeath money, which is often tied up in assets until they pass away.

While these are genuine concerns that appear to be addressing legitimate problems, the question is, if the ability to support an organisation in person is mutually beneficial, is it worth accessing some of the capital invested in your home now, so both parties can enjoy the benefits of volunteerism?