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Your Best Nonprofit Volunteers May Be Retirees

A recently retired golfing friend of mine was rejoicing in the volunteer work he was doing for a local nonprofit. He stated: “It has literally changed my life and my purpose as I am living these wonderful senior years!”

He went on to state how he had tried playing golf every day and just became frustrated and knew he had so much more to give to others. He also knew he would be giving so much more to his own personal mindset and sense of fulfillment.

This is not the first time I have heard this scenario play out, now that I am past the 60 year old mark. Unfortunately, more times than not, the story does not have the happy ending we see above.

What can charities do to address this?

1. Spread The Word

With so many of the Baby Boomers retiring who are still healthy and active there is a huge potential wave of volunteers to utilize. This can provide a huge win for both your organization as well as the volunteer.

This win/win can only happen if the word is spread to the right audience. Here are just a few of the many ways any nonprofit might try to achieve this outreach.

  • Add an age overlay to your database and create a special mailing
  • Create a special event to provide information to retirees
  • Add volunteer information to all of your current event related materials
  • Make the opportunity to volunteer just a prominent on your web site as donating or signing up for your newsletter
  • Make it a feature article in your newsletter
  • Find a way to achieve local PR with a radio or TV station or newspaper
  • Mention it in all of your donor communications
  • Help current volunteers reach out to others

What other methods have some of you used?

2. Be Prepared

Our team at Bloomerang engages in a group volunteer project every month or two. The difference in the amount of work achieved and the overall experience for the people participating when the nonprofit is well prepared for us is literally night and day!

This will be no different as you engage and involve Baby Boomer volunteers. Once there is interest enough to step up it is vital that their first few experiences be above average. In fact, if they are truly special, which can only happened with proper preparation, then you have those volunteers for the rest of their life.

You can and should utilize Baby Boomer volunteers in a manner where their former career skills shine through. Think of how special they will feel if they are praised for using such skills again rather than pushing a broom or mowing grass.

Plant a few friends as volunteers with your organization and then sit down and ask them what can be improved after you let them know it is OK to be brutally honest. You will learn so much you can use!

3. Make It Rewarding

This next step ties directly into the preparation above. Rewarding is expressed in different ways for different folks. For many, rewarding is based upon recognition and being welcomed back again and again.

Every volunteer want to feel like what they are doing is worthwhile. The sense of appreciation and satisfaction create the reward factor desired for most.

(Never be afraid to survey to find out if you are hitting the mark here…)

4. Make It Fun

The final step is the way to keep your best volunteers coming back for more. Any activity that is rewarding and fun will rise to the top for people such as Baby Boomers who have a strong voice in what they are doing daily.

No matter what the activity, a few extra smiles and the creation of new friends add so much to the picture. Just think about what brings you back to any endeavor. I am guessing knowing that it is fun makes a difference.

So how about it, is this a promising new asset many nonprofit organizations can take advantage of?

Here are a couple of other volunteer hints to keep in mind:

Please let us know if you have already taken steps to address this mutual need.


Jay Love, Co-Founder and CEO of Bloomerang

The preceding is a guest post by Jay Love, Co-Founder and CEO of Bloomerang, which helps nonprofit organizations to reach, engage, and retain the advocates they depend on to achieve their vision for a better world. A veteran of the nonprofit technology sector, Jay is a founding member of the AFP Business Member Council and chair of the AFP Ethics Committee.

Topics: Nonprofit Leadership and Practice