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Great Expectations: Boomers and the Future of Volunteering

July 1, 2007

This new study takes a closer look at the types of volunteer opportunities older adults are looking for in order to provide useful insights for nonprofits interested in expanding their capacity to attract and engage this talented population.The study, based on in-depth user research conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, explores both the nonprofit and the volunteer perspective, but focuses on identifying the evolving motivations, attitudes, skills and expectations of volunteers as they mature. The study also underscores the growing use of the Internet among older Americans and illustrates its usefulness as a tool for connecting volunteers with local nonprofit organizations.Among the Key Findings of the report:Many older non-volunteers are reconsidering volunteering* More than half of 55+ non-volunteers report some interest in volunteering* Professionals and women aged 55-64 are the most likely to be interestedOlder non-volunteers aren't volunteering because they haven't found the right opportunity* 32% of non-volunteers 55+ would prefer a volunteer activity that helps them learn new skills or explore new interestsOlder adult volunteers are more likely to appreciate the personal significance of volunteering* VolunteerMatch users age 55+ are contributing nearly 100 hours a year more than users aged 30-39 (226 hours vs. 132 hours)* 75% of users 55+ view volunteering as "very important" or "one of the most important" things in their lifeVolunteers grow increasingly interested in making use of their career and non-career related skills as they mature* A majority of VolunteerMatch users 55+ agree that they would prefer a volunteer opportunity that makes use of their personal or professional skillsThe Internet is making it easier for people of all ages to find nonprofit organizations that need help* 66% of those surveyed report that their use of the Internet has made it easier for them to find an organization that needed help* 61% report that it has made it easier to find interesting opportunitiesGreat Expectations: Boomers and the Future of Volunteering echoes the working hypothesis of other researchers and practitioners in the field that older volunteers, with their desire to apply a lifetime of experience and skill, have expectations for their volunteer commitments that don't currently align with the perceived need for skilled volunteers among nonprofits. The findings also suggest that knowledge and education, coupled with a more effective communication infrastructure, can realign these dynamics by reinforcing high expectations and empowering more organizations to make the most of their volunteer initiatives.

How the Internet Has Changed Volunteer Recruiting

September 1, 2004

Based on findings from a recent VolunteerMatch user study, this paper examines the significant role the Internet has played in nonprofit volunteer recruiting efforts.