Long-Term Engagement in Formal Volunteering and Well-Being: An Exploratory Indian Study

Behav Sci (Basel). 2016 Sep 27;6(4):20. doi: 10.3390/bs6040020.


Sustained engagement in volunteering and its correlates have been examined in many studies across the globe. However, there is a dearth of research that explores the perspectives of long-term formal volunteers on the nature of changes perceived in oneself as a result of volunteering. Moreover, the linkages between psychological well-being and volunteering have been insufficiently explored. The present study was aimed at addressing these gaps. A heterogeneous sample of 20 long-term formal volunteer engaged in volunteering across different voluntary organisations in a southern metropolitan Indian city formed the primary sample for the study. In addition, a group of 21 short-term volunteers, matched on age, income and gender, was utilised for comparison with long-term volunteers on well-being indices. A semi structured interview schedule was used to explore self-perceived changes attributable to volunteering experience. In addition, a few standardised measures were used to comprehensively assess subjective well-being and psychological well-being. The interview data provided rich descriptions of perceived positive changes in self across cognitive, behavioral and emotional domains. Mirroring these patterns, the quantitative analyses indicated that long-term volunteers experienced higher levels of psychological well-being (sense of mastery and competence, self-acceptance and sense of engagement and growth) than short-term volunteers. The potential mechanisms involved in beneficial outcomes of long-term volunteering and implications for further research are highlighted.

Keywords: formal volunteering; psychological well-being; volunteering; volunteering and well-being; well-being.