Why Do Retirees Volunteer?

Volunteering is a popular activity among retirees. You might ask yourself, why do retirees volunteer? I did some research and found that there are many reasons for retirees to volunteer. Here’s what I found out. 

Retirees volunteer because it gives a sense of fulfillment and purpose in retirement. Volunteering helps to stay active, keep up with social interactions and it’s a way to prevent loneliness in retirement. Helping others makes you feel good and it’s way to you interact with younger generations.

There are many benefits to volunteering as a retiree which I will share with you in this article.

Why Do Retirees Volunteer: The Benefits

Helping someone else makes you feel good; it is something we all experience in our lives. Volunteering is helping others, so the least you’ll get out of it is that you feel good. And that’s wonderful, right? 

However, the fact that volunteering makes you feel good must not be your main goal to volunteer. It is an extra benefit you’ll get out of it. It is more important that you love to do the activities that come with your volunteering job. So the key is to find the volunteering job or role that fits you the best. But later more on that. 

The biggest benefits of volunteering in retirement are that it gives a sense of fulfillment, creates more social interactions, and helps you to rediscover your purpose as a retiree. Let’s focus on those benefits for a moment. 

Volunteering Creates Fulfillment 

According to vocabulary.com, fulfillment means a feeling of happiness or satisfaction. Fulfillment also means the completion of a promise. Many people confuse fulfillment with a feeling of pleasure, but that’s what it really is. In terms of emotions, fulfillment is a satisfying feeling. 

There are many ways you can reach fulfillment when you’re retired. I wrote the article “How To Get Fulfillment In Retirement: 16 Tips,” which helps you learn more about fulfillment. 

One of the tips I share in that article is to contribute something bigger than yourself. And that’s the reason why volunteering gives you fulfillment. 

An interesting read is the book: Human Kind with amazing stories about simple acts of kindness that have transformed lives across the globe. Check the latest price on Amazon here.

Volunteering Improves Social Interactions

For many people, their work also was a large part of their social life. And when you retire, there’s a risk of getting less social interactions, which can be a risk. Social interactions are related to many health benefits. 

According to this article on Harvard Health Publishing, seniors with a broad circle of social interactions are less likely to create negative feelings. They have greater moods and are often more physically active. There’s even some research that says that social interactions are healthy for your brain.

When you’re volunteering, you increase your social circle. You’ll meet new people outside of your regular circle of family and friends. 

If you want to learn more about the importance of socializing in retirement, I recommend reading my article How To Stay Social In Retirement?

Volunteering Helps You Staying Active

For most activities you can do as a volunteer, you need to somewhere; to the community center, your church, a company, a club, etcetera. Volunteering helps you to stay active. And staying active is important because it is linked to many health benefits. 

I already mentioned the importance of social interactions and activity. However, by going somewhere to volunteer, you also are physically active. Or maybe I need to say; you can be physically active. 

If you need to go to the community center, you might want to hop on a bicycle instead of taking the car to get there. It helps to reach the minimum of daily physical exercise that’s recommended by the CDC. They recommend at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity, such as riding a bicycle, a day for older adults. 

If you’re looking for more inspiration, I recommend reading my article, How Can I Stay Active in Retirement?

Many retirees are afraid they don’t get enough challenging brain activity once they’re retired. Keeping your brain active is just as important as staying physically active. Social interactions also help with that. And doing a volunteer job can fill in the gap of challenging activities. The fact that you’re busy, and probably need to think about the tasks that you’re doing in your volunteer job, help improve mental activities.

You can read more about the importance of mentally challenging activities in my article, How Do I Keep My Brain Active In Retirement? 

Finding The Right Volunteering Role As A Retiree

So, volunteering helps you to stay active in your retirement. It improves social interactions and creates fulfillment. But there’s much more to volunteering in retirement than just staying busy. To get the most out of your volunteering, you must find the right role as a volunteer. 

If you start doing something you don’t like, you probably not doing it for long, and you will not get any fulfillment out of it. 

To find the right role as a volunteer, you must start by asking yourself what you want to get out of volunteering. It can be challenging to start this conversation with yourself, but there are many ways to make it a bit easier; 

Get a pen and paper and write down answers to the following questions; 

  • Why do you want to volunteer? 
  • What is what you want to do, and why do you want to do this?
  • Are you missing something from your old job that you want to replace?
  • Do you want to use your professional skills or learn something new?

Finding the answers to those questions can help you formulate an idea of what kind of role you want to have as a volunteer. If it helps, you can always talk things through with your spouse, a friend, or maybe an old colleague. The process is a bit similar to when you’re looking to find your passion in retirement

You can always go to the local community center, your church, or a sports club and ask if they’re looking for volunteers and what kind of job openings they have. Maybe you find something that fits in the role you’ve in mind. I’ll tell you later about some other resources you can use to find a volunteer job. 

Here are some examples of jobs and roles you can have as a volunteer to give you an idea about what’s possible. 

Become a Foster Grandparent

As a foster grandparent, you help children who need some guidance and attention, just with easy things like helping with homework or fun things to do. 

You can apply via National Community Service. There’s often a background check needed before you start, and you need to commit for a minimum period or specific hours a week. 

Become a Senior Companion

The National Community Service also provides volunteer jobs to become a senior companion. As a senior companion, you’re helping people that are 55 years or older with daily tasks that they find very difficult to do. The program is focused on helping seniors live independently at home longer.

Become a mentor/ coach 

Maybe you want to do a volunteer job and use your knowledge and professional skills. Mentoring or coaching someone in the same job field as you were before can be a great thing to do. 

However, becoming a coach is different than just working as a professional. Often there are different skills needed to be a good coach for someone. Becoming a coach can also be very interesting to do as a retirement job instead of volunteering. 

When you’re not used to coaching someone, I highly recommend following a course via Coaching Training Alliance first so that you can improve your coaching skills

Certified Coach Program

Get The Most Out Of Volunteering

So volunteering as a retiree is a great way to get yourself out there. To get involved in your local community and to stay active and busy in your retirement. The next tips are helpful to make sure you get the most out of your journey as a volunteer; 

Volunteering is a commitment.

When you decide to volunteer, you commit yourself to a job or a specific task. People are counting on you. So it is important that you make commitments that you can live up to, also don’t over-commit. Volunteering is a job, but it doesn’t mean that you have to work every day. You also need to enjoy your retirement! 😉 

Make sure that the commitments fit in your schedule. If you want to do the volunteer job like once a week, that’s fine, but be honest and just tell the people that are organizing everything—this way, everyone knows what to expect. 

Know the process 

Sometimes volunteer jobs are only available when you have specific qualifications, the organization does background checks, or you need to follow a training to be able to do the volunteering. You must know these processes or requirements before you apply for a specific volunteer job. You might don’t want to commit yourself to something that involves different pieces of training, or has a minimum commitment period or something. 

Make sure you know what you get yourself involved too. 

Bring a friend

Volunteering can be completely new for you, and if you’re not used to doing it, it can also be a bit scary. Starting a new position at a company or organization, you don’t know is challenging for everyone, and especially when you just got retired and are used to working at the same company for years. 

To make the first steps in volunteering more comfortable, you can quickly bring a friend or your spouse. You can both start on the same volunteering job or organization. It’s great fun starting something new with someone you know, and also it’s sometimes easier to interact with others when you’re together with someone familiar.

Learn to Say ‘No’

It’s maybe the most important one in this shortlist. Learning how to say no is the key for you to get the most out of volunteering. Many organizations are looking for all the help they can get, and before you know it, you commit yourself to a fulltime, volunteering, job! 

To avoid being working too much as a volunteer, make sure you are clear from the start about how many hours a week you’re available, and the tasks you want to do. 

Keep Learning

When you allow yourself to improve and keep learning new things, you can grow your skillset, which can be beneficial if you want to grow in your volunteering role. There are many ways you can improve yourself, but the best way to learn new skills is through Masterclass. 

Courses that are interesting and useful for volunteering are;


At Masterclass, you can learn from Dr. Jane Goodall about conservation. She teaches you how to converse the environment. Which is now more important than ever. She also shares her research on the behavioral patterns of chimpanzees and what they taught her about conservation. You’ll learn how to act locally and protect the planet. Find out more about her Masterclass here.


Ron Finley teaches gardening. You learn the basics and get many professional tips during the different courses, which you can use right away.

Effective and Authentic Communication

Learning how to communicate in an effective way, and stay through to yourself is beneficial when you start in a new role as a volunteer. The best way to improve your communication skills is by following the Masterclass of Robin Roberts, yes, the anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America.

Masterclass is an online platform where you can learn from the world’s most successful and famous people. Masterclass offers over 80 classes and more than 1000 different lessons. Check out all the classes;

Apply at a Volunteering Agency 

It may sound weird, but using a volunteering agency helps you get the most out of your volunteering. These agencies are specialized in matching volunteers with the right job openings. It’s their job to find the right person for the right place, so why not use it to your advantage. 

Volunteering agencies can also help you in finding the right role. They will first focus on what you want, your skillset, and your experience. After that, they will look at which job openings are the best match. It is an easy process, just like an employment agency. 

Websites you can use as a volunteer agency are; 

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Kirsten Veldman

I'm Kirsten. In 2017, my husband Léon, and I decided to retire from the rat race to travel the world and work and live location independently. In the last couple of years, I wrote over 200+ articles about retirement and did extensive research to help people prepare, enjoy and celebrate retirement in the best way possible.

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