The Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration recently shared their research of why seniors want to volunteer and how it is advantageous for everyone. They report how nonprofit organizations can proactively design volunteer programs to be attractive to – and supportive of – older adults. According to the volunteer program leaders in the study, it is important to recognize and understand: 1) the benefits of hosting senior volunteers; 2) what motivates seniors; 3) the advantages and challenges of seniors; and 4) how senior volunteerism helps with intergenerational communication.
- According to the study, not only are more than 70% of older adults willing to be recruited, they are also more willing to stay and be retained by the organizations they volunteer for.
|Reasons that Seniors Volunteer Include:
|Reasons Seniors May not Volunteer Include:
|• To meet new people
• Satisfaction of giving back to their community
• Cope with feelings of inactivity or isolation
• Pass on knowledge or experience they have gained
|• Fear of demeaning assignments
• Not wanting to be supervised by someone younger
• Feeling burnt out after a lifetime of work
• Being too busy with family and/or other obligations
- Older Adults also shared the ability and wanting of passing knowledge to younger generations. The research also found that at least 60% of seniors want to volunteer to “give back” the skills they learned.
- rPerhaps the most important finding is how senior volunteering can lead to intergenerational communication and learning. The professionals that were surveyed for this research imparted, “When volunteers of all ages intermingle, an effective environment is created that supports the organization. Volunteers from different generations bring an eclectic blend of knowledge, skills, and experience to an organization.”
A Path Forward
“Volunteer opportunities must be expanded and diversified in order to appeal to the 35 million people who are already over 65 and the 79 million baby boomers who are transitioning from primary careers and family building.”AmeriCorps
There is an untapped community of diligent and knowledgeable workers, waiting and willing to do their part – as long as we are willing to create new and inventive volunteer programs.
To read more about this research and the expanded findings click here.