Feel like a million bucks – and it won’t cost you anything

July 13, 2023

For plan members, sponsors and administrators

Here’s a secret that could leave you feeling great. Like – really great! More than 79% of Canadians aged 15 and older already know the secret.1 They volunteer.

“Volunteering – giving your time for free to an organization, a neighbour, a friend – is such a healthy way to feel better,” says Manulife’s Maarika Arget, Senior Consultant, Workplace Well-being. “It boosts your endorphins, which are the hormones that make you feel happy. And for many people, nothing makes them feel better than giving back to their communities. And that’s because not only do people get a sense of accomplishment and purpose, volunteering is a great way to stay connected to other people. Our recent Wellness study showed that in 2022, 49% of respondents said they experienced feelings of loneliness.2 Social interaction is so important to our well-being.”

Volunteering in Canada is not just a few hours here or there. According to a Statistics Canada study published in 2021, volunteers dedicated approximately 5 billion hours to volunteer activities, a number of hours equivalent to over 2.5 million full-time year-round jobs.3

The best part of volunteering is it costs you nothing but your time. That makes it the perfect activity for many people:

  • If you want to beef up your resume. Many charities need people with a variety of business skills, like marketing, communications, finance, legal.
  • If you’re new to Canada and want to improve your English.
  • If you want to meet new people.
  • If you’re recently retired and you want to stay connected to others.

Volunteering can take on many forms, too. It can be a one-time special event, like a sporting event or packing toy boxes during the holidays. Or, it can be a longer-term commitment. The great thing about volunteering is you can make it what you want it to be and for whatever amount of time you can give. The choice is yours. And your efforts are very appreciated.

Wondering how you can fit in volunteer hours when you’re working? Some employers give you a set number of hours each year to volunteer, or flex days. You can also consider doing something with your entire team: many charities have programs that are great for team building. For example, most local food banks have a challenge to see which team can pack the most boxes of food in a set time. Get a number of teams signed up for some healthy competition! You give back: win. You win the competition? Win-win!

It's easy to find volunteer opportunities.

  1. Ask your friends, especially if you have a friend who volunteers. They’d be happy to welcome you and, if you’re nervous, it’s good to go with a friend. Tip! Try it out before you commit long term. Just like a paying job, not all volunteer roles are right for everyone.
  2. Think about what makes you happy. Reading to children? Helping the elderly? Supporting those less fortunate? The best way to make volunteering meaningful is to find something you’re passionate about.
  3. Contact your local community centre. They often know of available volunteer activities, and you’d be close to home!
  4. Go online. Search for “volunteer activities near me.” You’ll find great resources and links to organizations that match volunteers with opportunities. Or check out the Pan-Canadian Volunteer Matching Platform to seek out opportunities by location, interest, and skills.

Giving back is a great way to help others and improve your mind, spirit and overall health. And the best part, it only costs you some time. Whether you have a lot to give, or only just a little, you’ll feel like a million bucks knowing you’ve helped.

Looking to see how you can save some money? Our Living your best life costs less than you think article gives you tips to do just that.


Learn more!

-          Eating well for less doesn’t have to be hard. It just takes some extra time management. Try the tips in this article, the first in our series How to live big on a small budget. You’ll feel better, about your wallet and your health!

-          Is the high cost of living making you rethink your gym membership? Read this article in our series How to live big on a small budget. Learn how keeping in shape can be affordable.



1Volunteering counts: Formal and informal contributions of Canadians in 2018. Statistics Canada, 2021. Volunteering counts: Formal and informal contributions of Canadians in 2018 (statcan.gc.ca)

2The Wellness Report in 2022 - The Wellness Report | Manulife

3Volunteering counts: Formal and informal contributions of Canadians in 2018. Statistics Canada, 2021. Volunteering counts: Formal and informal contributions of Canadians in 2018 (statcan.gc.ca)

Related links: