The advantages of senior volunteers

Seniors have a vested interest in their community.
Date Published
07/20/2015

Nonprofit fundraisers focus a lot of their volunteer recruitment strategies on attracting younger groups or professional connections. These are important audiences, but nonprofits shouldn’t overlook the benefits provided by retired individuals and senior citizens. Volunteers over the age of 65 have much to offer to fundraising efforts.

They are ready to contribute
Enthusiasm is one of the most important qualities a volunteer can have. Recent statistics show senior citizens are actively pursuing volunteer activities.

The Nonprofit Times reported senior volunteering hit an all-time high in 2011. Volunteer rates have slightly dipped in recent years across the board, but older Americans are still contributing their time. Corporation for National & Community Service research found the two volunteer age groups with the highest median hours were individuals 65 to 74 and those 75 and older.

Senior volunteers are often seen contributing to nonprofits that support children, veterans, elderly, and disaster relief. Senior Corp is an organization that matches causes with senior volunteers who offer the best skills for the nonprofit’s needs. Membership is more than 360,000 U.S. citizens over the age of 65.

It’s a two-way street
One reason senior citizens are so enthused to participate in fundraising volunteer programs is because it is good for them.

The Senior Citizen Bureau listed the numerous health and mental benefits older Americans¬†get when spending their golden years giving back. Senior citizens who volunteer report higher levels of well-being compared to those who don’t. Contributing their time to nonprofits decreased reports of grief or depression in retirees. Physical health benefits included lower rates of high blood pressure and reduced stress.

Physical improvement is attributed to consistent activity provided by fundraising projects. Constant interaction with other people improves social skills and elevates mood. When a person retires, they are often seeking ways to avoid inactivity. Volunteer positions allow people to use a lifetime of skill development for a good cause.

They have experience and community ties
Retired individuals come from a variety of businesses and industries, so an older volunteer group can offer nonprofit fundraisers many talents and abilities.

Senior citizens with sales experience are great for fundraising drives. Retired teachers are excellent leaders for young volunteer groups. They could have experience in the area the nonprofit’s cause is looking to affect, such as veterans contributing to troop support or former farmers speaking on behalf of environmental concerns.

The Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley found senior volunteers were a great resource for the local community. People who have spent their entire lives in an area had multiple contacts and knew plenty about regional politics.

When someone leaves their profession, he or she can start to feel underappreciated. Older generations are overlooked by numerous organizations, so nonprofits that turn to them with legitimate opportunities for community impact are often appreciated. It is important that nonprofits never look like they are humoring older volunteers, but rather are very grateful for their assistance.

Unique schedules
Another advantage of approaching a new group of volunteers is they have different habits than traditional contributors. While kids are at school and their parents are at work, older people can spend their day filling empty slots in the schedule.

Retirees usually have plenty of time on their hands. Even if they are just looking for a part-time opportunity, the few hours they contribute could be during lulls in other groups. Volunteer management software should give nonprofit managers complete visibility of all their volunteer groups to see how they can get the best use out of the diverse individuals who offer their time.

Consistent scheduling practices provide potential volunteers with evidence of where their help is most needed. Seniors interested in nonprofit opportunities can see where they are most needed and they will know they are an integral piece of the organization. 

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