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How Technology Impacts Your Relationships with Senior Citizens

Today’s senior citizens may take nonprofits by surprise in a variety of ways. Baby Boomers are leaving the workforce and remaining active both socially with friends and relatives and in their communities through volunteerism.

Is your organization ready for the “boom”? In this post, we’ll explain how technology can help you properly prepare, while simultaneously improving engagement and building trust.

Boomers Want to Help

Corbit Harrison

As many Boomers retire from positions of power within their former companies and transition to the volunteer arena, it is wise for nonprofits to remember that Boomers are generally not content to stuff envelopes. Perhaps this is because of the activism many experienced in the 1960s, but, regardless of the reason, some of them are looking to head up projects within nonprofits in which they get to showcase their considerable knowledge and skills.

Don’t Underestimate Tech IQ

Boomers may surprise you in other ways as well. Remember the social aspect we mentioned in the opening lines of this article? It might shock you to learn that a recent study by iStrategy Labs finds that, while the number of teens on Facebook has slumped by 25 percent from January 2011 to early 2014, there was an 80 percent increase among users ages 55 and up. And when it comes to smartphones, at this point one in four senior citizens own one. If you think this number is higher than what you might have anticipated, consider this: projections are that by 2017 one in two senior citizens will be using smartphones. In this demographic, even today, a recent Pew Institute survey finds that daily text messaging tops phone calls among the 65 and older age bracket 4.7 to 3.8.

With this in mind, nonprofits should have very little fear that deploying value-added technology may scare off senior-citizen volunteers. On the contrary, organizations are being pleasantly surprised when new systems actually provide a net positive impact on these relationships.

Using Technology to Build Trust with Volunteers

In fact, technology can actually improve relationships with volunteers of all ages. For example, an online volunteer management system, such as VolunteerHub, can underscore the fact that your organization recognizes its supporters have busy lives and tight schedules. This type of software provides a way for volunteers to self-register for opportunities from the convenience of their homes via computer or mobile device any time of day or night -- with their calendar right beside the keyboard. A quality volunteer management solution also provides fast and efficient communication between a nonprofit and it volunteers through automated event registration confirmation, reminder, and thank-you emails. All of this allows you to get more personalized communication to your volunteers, building trust along the way.

This kind of efficiency is not limited just to volunteer management. Imagine how much more time your agency can save -- and dollars it can raise -- with a top-notch donor management solution. When a return on investment analysis (ROI) is calculated in these instances, systems such as volunteer and donor management solutions basically always pay off for nonprofits, regardless of the ages of their volunteers.

Your Supporters Are Ready & Willing

So go ahead and text, tweet, and manage your volunteer and donation programs in the cloud without impunity. Technology isn’t a thing of the future. It’s now. And Baby Boomers are keeping up quite nicely. If your organization isn’t running with the technological pack, the Boomers will wonder why you’re not -- because they are.

The preceding is a guest post by Corbit Harrison, Chief Operating Officer for VolunteerHub, a cloud-based volunteer management software application that offers online event registration, email and SMS (text) messaging, report generation, and much more. Corbit has been actively helping non-profit organizations better engage constituents for over 10 years. Connect with Corbit on LinkedIn. This is part of our ongoing VolunteerCorner series – focusing on issues that you need to know about in the nonprofit sector.

Topics: Nonprofit Leadership and Practice