White Plains, NY, January 12, 2016 – As millions of Americans come together on January 18 for a day of service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a new survey by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), Giving and Getting Back: Volunteering in America, shows that whether contributing to your community or supporting a cause, volunteering can provide bonus benefits that can last a lifetime.
Notably, the nationwide survey of 1,022 adults reveals that volunteering can expand your social circle, enhance your relationships, encourage physical activity and even improve your love life. Nearly 90 percent of those polled, who have volunteered in the past year, say it has been good for their social life. At 96 percent agreement, male millennials (18-34) in particular feel that volunteering provides social benefits.
“In our 65-year history, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has set the standard for volunteerism in our goal to find cures and ensure access to lifesaving treatments for blood cancer patients,” says James Davis, Ph.D., JD, a blood cancer survivor who joined LLS’s Board of Directors in 2007, has co-chaired fundraising events, and now serves as board chairman. “But as the survey shows, volunteering on any level can provide a multitude of benefits not only to the recipient, but the giver as well.”
Is Volunteering the New Match.com?
The survey finds that more than 80 percent of those who have volunteered in the past year would be more willing to date a person they met volunteering than through an online dating site, with female respondents (85 percent) slightly more willing than males (81 percent). In addition, 84 percent of unmarried respondents report being more comfortable going on a date with a fellow volunteer rather than being set up on a blind date by a friend or relative.
Research shows that special bonds often develop while volunteering with others. In fact, more than half of those volunteers report making a new friend while doing good. Lending a helping hand can even help your love life with 10 percent saying that volunteering led to a romantic relationship and of those, six percent ended up walking down the aisle in marriage.
“Volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about allows you to meet amazing people who share a common goal. While coaching for LLS’s Team In Training, I never dreamed I’d meet my soul mate and best friend, now my wife, who was training for her first marathon,” says Michael Conlon, LLS NYC Chapter Board Member, Team In Training Coach and 2011 New York City Man of the Year. “We’ve been volunteering, coaching and training together ever since.”
Volunteering provides couples with a shared activity that both can enjoy with more than 80 percent of those giving of their time in the past year agreeing that their relationship is better based on this unifying experience.
Volunteering is a Good Career Move
Not only can sharing time and talent enhance one’s social circles, it can also be a career booster. Networking opportunities (31 percent), improving job skills (30 percent) and providing an impressive resume activity (20 percent) are the top three ways people report volunteering helped their careers. In addition, 10 percent received new job offers in their field, while eight percent changed careers due to their volunteering efforts.
Tina Thompson, executive director of LLS’s Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia chapter, unexpectedly launched her career when she volunteered as an unpaid intern 17 years ago.
“I took the advice of my college professor to do something with non-profit work before I found my 'dream job.’ I took an unpaid internship at LLS hoping to learn some new skills and start building my career network,” she said. “I had no idea I would end up being offered a paid position as a campaign coordinator and eventually be promoted to my dream job of executive director! I ended up finding a career path better than I could have ever imagined."
Shape Up with Volunteerism
In addition to the psychological and social benefits of volunteering, it’s also a great way to get in shape. Nearly one in four people who participated in volunteer work say that it helped them become more physically active and more than 75 percent agree it is a great way to become more physically fit. Looking to the future, nearly half of those respondents would consider volunteering for a challenging physical activity such as runs, cycling, or triathlons, to raise funds for a cause.
The How & Why of Volunteering or Not
The LLS Giving and Getting Back: Volunteering in America study also asked about ways people are giving back in support of charitable causes. On average, three out of four people agree that giving time, giving money and actively participating in fundraising events are the most effective ways to support a charitable cause. However, a fourth that is quickly gaining traction is sharing information through social media. In fact, 72 percent agree that sharing information through social media channels can effectively support a charitable organization. While millennials were the most enthusiastic about the value of social media (80 percent), it’s important to note that more than half of those 55 and older see social media as a means to support charitable causes. At 36 percent, lack of time was the most frequent reason cited by people who currently do not volunteer, although 30 percent state that they either don’t know how to get involved or haven’t been asked to volunteer, which indicates a significant opportunity to engage people in cause-related efforts.
Additional findings from the Giving and Getting Back survey include:
- More than half of respondents who volunteer say it makes them happy and gives them a sense of accomplishment
- Nearly half state it fulfills them spiritually
- 84 percent state that they would volunteer for a cause that is personal to them or someone they know
- 75 percent of people who donate time also donate money to the same charitable/cause-related organization
- 70 percent agree you can effectively support a cause by being an advocate through speaking and/or writing
The survey was conducted online for LLS by Russell Research from December 18 - 21, 2015 among 1,022 adults ages 18 and older, including 586 adults who have donated their time in the past year. The margin of error was +/- 3.1 percentage points overall and +/- 4.0% among those who have donated their time.
About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® (LLS) is the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world, provides free information and support services, and is the voice for all blood cancer patients seeking access to quality, affordable, coordinated care.
Founded in 1949 and headquartered in White Plains, NY, LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit LLS.org. Patients should contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.