11/25/2014 10:49 am ET Updated Jan 25, 2015

Women and the Payback for Giving Back

Hero Images via Getty Images

Truth be told, women hold up a bit more than half the sky. When it comes to volunteering with nonprofits to help others, women volunteer at a higher rate than men (28% vs. 22%) across all age groups, educational levels, and other major demographic characteristics. Even working mothers, arguably the busiest among us, volunteer at a significantly higher rate than the population as a whole (38.5% vs 26.5%).

I'm not sure why women volunteer more than men do, but I do know that most volunteers -- men and women -- say they get more from volunteering than they give. Here's a quick rundown of some of the benefits.

Volunteering boosts self-worth. According to a study conducted for L'Oreal Paris, 96% of women feel that helping others gives them self-worth, and 95% of women feel best about themselves when they're participating in small acts of kindness.

Volunteering provides a great example to others. Research shows that young people who have a family member who volunteers are almost two times as likely to volunteer (and three times as likely to volunteer regularly) than kids without volunteers in the family.

Volunteering can be a way back to the job market. Volunteers are 27% more likely to find a job after being out of work than non-volunteers, according to a recent government study.

Volunteering is good for our health. More than three-quarters (78%) of people who volunteered in the past 12 months say that volunteering has made them feel healthier, according to a study from United Health Group.

Volunteering helps us cope with adversity. I have met so many examples of women who have stepped up during and after their own pain -- fighting disease, losing a child or partner, enduring homelessness -- to help others. Helping others cope must surely help us cope.

Volunteering passes values from one generation to the next. As the wife of a preacher in rural Louisiana, my mother was always giving back to members of our congregation and to neighbors. Mom fed hungry kids on the block and visited church members in the hospital, and she took all six of us (yes, six kids) with her to visit the elderly in nursing homes.

For years, my daughter and I regularly visited a local assisted living facility in Atlanta to help run game night and to give some of the women residents manicures. When Valarie left to study at the University of Arizona, I wondered if service would be a part of her new and busy life.

Just last month, Val called to tell me she was leading a volunteer service project on Make A Difference Day in Tucson. Mom and I are so proud.

Cast a vote in support of noteworthy volunteers who will get to shine next week, when L'Oreal honors 10 Women of Worth -- amazing volunteers combatting disease, poverty, sex trafficking and addiction -- with $25,000 grants. You can vote for which honoree will get an additional $25,000 for her cause. Go to to read for their stories, then vote! You can also vote on the L'Oréal Paris Facebook page or by re-tweeting news on the awardee from @LOrealParisUSA. The deadline for voting is Wednesday, November 26.