Friday, 22 June 2012

Get Baby Boomers involved – Tapping Their Volunteer Potential

Baby boomers are those born between 1946 and 1964, some are now over 60 – which is prime time for volunteering. Some want to add a meaningful 'third act' to their lives, getting involved with communities and charities which fit their needs.

Baby boomers also exhibit many characteristics that make for great volunteers. Many are wealthy, healthy, educated and curious, and want to give something back. They have skills, ideas and contacts. They want a crack at saving the world - making a difference. 

Philanthropy will be their way to shape the world and be the change. The population of the UK is growing in size and becoming increasingly older. Between 1985 and 2010, the number of people aged 65-and-over in the UK increased by 20% to 10.3 million. In 2010 17% of the population were aged 65-and-over [1].  Many of these people are not looking for things to buy but looking to give something back.

David Eisner

David Eisner, ex-CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, said at a White House Conference, "America’s baby boomers are an untapped resource of extraordinary proportions. They are the largest, healthiest, best-educated generation in history – and they can leave an incredible legacy through service to others,". Why aren't we picking up the phone to them? 

Research About Baby Boomer Volunteering:
  • Boomers engage in very diverse volunteer activities:
    • Direct volunteering interests include teaching and mentoring, collecting and preparing food. 
    • Indirect volunteering interests that boomers typically like include fundraising, professional services and general work.
  • Boomers are more likely to volunteer with more than one organisation, whereas the average volunteer usually invests time with one organisation at a time - they can volunteer in several capacities.
  • Strong community ties increase volunteering.
  • Baby boomers are more likely to volunteer as part of a social interaction.
  • The main reason for boomers to volunteer is being asked by someone they have an established relationship with.
  • Volunteering tends to peak at mid-life, around the current age of baby boomers.

Top Tips for Getting Baby Boomers volunteering:

  • Don't let high powered people do low level work. They are longing to do meaningful work so don't have them licking stamps! They are smart people - use their skills.
  • Trawl your database to find people with specific skills relevant to your needs and match them up.
  • Build small teams e.g. a Social Media group, a Strategic Planning group, PR and Communications group, Young Leaders group, Women's group etc.

Your non-profit organisation cannot afford to miss out on the volunteer possibilities that the baby boom generation can provide.

Niamh, @niamhini

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