Baby boomers are typically hard-working individuals, resourceful, experienced and they value relationships, according to research from Indeed.com. These and other characteristics make them ideal for volunteer opportunities.
This age group, generally classified as ages 59-77, are often retired and looking to volunteer at organizations where they can make an impact and use their skills. To broaden an organization’s scope of skills consider recruiting older volunteers (55 and older) who are experienced, highly responsible and will commit long-term to an organization. In order to attract this demographic, there are some key factors the organization can focus on to recruit and retain these volunteers.
When recruiting baby boomers emphasize the organizations’ values and impact on the community. To do so, consider the best way to reach volunteers who are 55 and older.
For non-profits in an area with limited internet access consider advertising. Look to the local newspaper or a free ads paper, like the Penny Saver. To get the word out, consider hosting a get-to-know the organization session or ask to share information volunteer opportunities with the local senior center or church.
While advertising is important, having relevant information on a website is also important. Make sure to include information about the volunteer program, steps for inquiring or signing up to volunteer, what/if any requirements you have, and the orientation/training provided online.
Within this information graphics and volunteer stories are also valuable to appeal to this specific demographic. And use social media channels this group is familiar with. This includes Facebook, VolunteerMatch and Just Serve. These are great places to start to post volunteer needs. Lastly, ensure marketing features images of the generation in activities they will be signing up for.
- Provide training opportunities. Onboarding and training are essential when it comes to volunteering and it shows commitment to the volunteers. This can include an orientation, position-specific training and mentoring provided by a current volunteer in on the “job” training. Think safety tips to avoid falling, caregiver support or self-care trainings. Properly organizational support through training can sustain older volunteers and keep them actively involved with your organization longer. It’s important for a volunteer to feel capable and empowered to perform their duties, use their current skills and have support to developnew skills. If volunteers do not feel they received adequate support and guidance when starting their new position, they will not remain with your organization. This will lead them to seek out volunteer opportunities elsewhere.
- Provide flexible schedules. Many organizations have gone to online scheduling where volunteers can sign up in advance for their shifts, whether it’s volunteering the same day every week or choosing days and times that work for them throughout the month. It’s important to have flexibility in your scheduling to ensure volunteers can take off the time they need to for other aspects of their lives. This is because volunteers 55 and older may take multiple roles simultaneously as an employee, a caregiver and/or a grandparent. Additionally, an online scheduling platform allows volunteers to become involved in different aspects of the organization and choose what position or positions work for them. However, if this is a new online program they have not used, consider having in-person training, video or manual they can reference to ensure they can create their account and sign up.
Overall, take time to review the volunteer program plan to ensure targeted recruitment, adequate onboarding, easy and convenient scheduling and ongoing training opportunities to keep volunteers engaged with your organization. These small changes could provide better organizational support to older volunteers and will cause increased retention resulting in the need for less recruitment. For all organizations, remember the best recruitment strategy you have is word of mouth from your current volunteers to their friends, family and community.
Morrow-Howell, N., Hinterlong, J., Sherraden, M., Tang, F., Thirupathy, P., & Nagchoudhuri, M. (2003). Institutional capacity for elder service, Social Development Issues, 2003, vol. 25 (pg. 189-204)
Skoglund AG. Do not forget about your volunteers: A qualitative analysis of factors influencing volunteer turnover, Health and Social Work, 2006, vol. 31 (pg. 217-220)
Tang F, Morrow-Howell N, Hong S. Inclusion of diverse older populations in volunteering: The importance of institutional facilitation, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 2009, vol. 38 (pg. 810-827)
– Micaela de Loyola-Carkin, Project Coordinator