This article examines the health effects of volunteering for older adults. It first presents a review of the literature on the positive health effects of volunteering, and investigates the mechanisms through which volunteering affects older people's health. The article then describes nine volunteer programmes for older adults that have achieved a reputation for excellence, as documented by research literature, media accounts and awards received. Based on examination of these initiatives, we analyse successful designs for volunteer programmes for older adults to maximise positive health effects. The article concludes with further recommendations for programme success.