I can make you happy – The Power of Volunteering


Ethel Russell

The International Day of Happiness is a great time to talk about the benefits of charity shop volunteering.  It’s those 221,000+ volunteers that power the charity shops into creating nearly £300 million profit.

At 21, I was an Oxfam shop manager and I worked alongside the lovely Sadie (left) and Ethel Russell.  Ethel and her husband Jack (yep), gave so much of their time to make the shop a success, just like the other 30 volunteers did too. I was a long way from home, working my first job and they were my new family. Volunteering gave them joy and we were a happy bunch.

There’s been squillions of studies proving the benefits of volunteering… here’s a recent one carried out with 3,500 volunteering adults

76 percent of people said that volunteering has made them feel healthier

94 percent of people who volunteered in the last twelve months said that volunteering improved their mood

78 percent of them said that volunteering lowered their stress levels

96 percent reported that volunteering enriched their sense of purpose in life

So it’s a fact – volunteering puts a smile on your face. But volunteering numbers are dwindling in charity shops.   And that’s partly because shop teams aren’t getting the ask right.  We’ve got to stop the “We desperately need volunteers” posters and appeals.  Who wants to give their time to somewhere that’s desperate?!  No one.  People want to spend time do something worthwhile, using and learning new skills, and having fun. So tell them what they want to hear!

As well as simply stating what type of skills and commitment you want, you’ve got to emphasise the benefits to the individual.  Volunteering is a two way thing, so today of all days, let your prospective volunteers know that just like Paul McKenna, volunteering can make you happy 🙂

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