Why Volunteerism and Activism Are Good For Your Health

The last year has amplified rallying cries for activism. A global pandemic, the country’s polarized political climate, and deeply-entrenched racial injustices have all been at the forefront of the news and our minds — and have made supporting and championing good of the utmost importance. And there have arguably never been more ways to get involved — whether you’ve marched in person, ran a race virtually, donated your time to one organization, or committed money to another — all of these collective contributions can begin to foster real change. 

While some efforts to support causes might produce more visible effects than others, each individual action cultivates a community oriented towards progress. In addition to the immediate benefits of volunteering and working for change, activism and volunteerism have been scientifically proven to benefit our overall health and wellbeing. There is no denying that joining with others for a common goal is powerful and meaningful. That’s partly why UncommonGood was founded: to clear barriers to getting and staying involved – with the ultimate goal of building a more efficient, more enjoyable, and more approachable path to making a difference. 

Whether you use these findings to attract new volunteers to your organization or serve as the motivation to get involved in your community, celebrate the science behind the greater good.

Activists Lead Healthier, More Fulfilled Lives

When you’re working tirelessly to make a difference and create an impact for a cause, you feel like you’re contributing to the world around you. According to two online surveys of college students, those who considered themselves activists benefited from healthier, more fulfilled lives, as well as increased social well-being. Activists were also more likely to ‘flourish’ — as in, grow over time — than those who were non-activists. 

Bringing about change can mean different things for different people — which is why at UncommonGood, we strive to make finding what works for you a seamless experience. Removing the hurdle of discovering the right opportunities and organizations that fit your mission, UncommonGood connects passionate people with purpose-driven orgs, big and small, to build seismic change. 

Activists Strengthen Their Identity Through Involvement

For most people, the decision to make a difference or fight for a cause is personal, and parts of our identities – and the identities of people we care for – are undoubtedly intertwined with the missions for which we advocate. 

The act of activism itself can strengthen our self-confidence and bind us to others in the community, according to a study published in PLoS One. Researchers found an individual’s activism – and the “shared identity” among individuals who took part in the same activism – is linked to positive psychological outcomes like empowerment. At UncommonGood, we truly believe in this research and that’s why we’re working to help one another towards a unifying goal, using the power of individual stories and community connections, knowing this will be the heartbeat of change. 

Being Involved with a Nonprofit Improves Mental Health — and Overall Health

Even when you’re feeling isolated or disconnected from the world around you, volunteering can bring you back to yourself and improve your thought patterns. And when you become actively engaged with a group of like-minded people, you not only shape your personal story, but also amplify the collective story of those you’re serving. 

In a study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, researchers examined data from 70,000 participants in the United Kingdom. The participants received questions about their volunteering habits and mental health every two years, from 1996 to 2014. Researchers found that those who volunteered were more satisfied with their lives and gave higher scores on their overall health. They found those who volunteered monthly experienced even stronger mental health than those who didn’t give back frequently or at all.

Every story and every journey towards volunteering is nuanced – and we believe in the impact of these stories to build happier and healthier communities.

Activism Encourages Education

In part, activism is a form of education, since it’s crucial to express values and beliefs to audiences on social media, face-to-face, and on public stages. The hope is that activism sparks an idea in another person, and pushes them to join a movement for good. According to one study published at Miami University, academic activism has the power to shift ideologies and super-spear change. 

At UncommonGood, we know learning is a lifelong journey, one that helps us break through our limitations. We are constantly working to listen – to raise the voices of storytellers who move us towards a more compassionate and just world. The more we allow others to teach, the more we work to break cycles of violence, racism, and poverty. By handing over the mic and giving folks a platform to share their voices and their organizations’ missions, we make the world of activism a diverse place of many perspectives, all focused on doing good. 

So you’ve read some of the science behind doing good. Ready to join the movement? We bet there’s a way and a cause for you, and we want to help you find it. Take a look at UncommonGood’s nonprofit partners to see how you can make a difference. 


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