Tuesday, December 04, 2007

New Research on Baby Boomer Volunteers

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a government agency that supports volunteer organizations, conducts research about volunteerism, and promotes volunteering in the United States. They have recently published an issue brief called "Baby Boomers and Volunteering: Findings from Corporation Research" and a research report called "Keeping Baby Boomers Volunteering: a Research Brief on Retention and Turnover" (found via theMatureMarket.com).

Key Findings of These Reports:

  • Baby Boomers from 46-57 have higher volunteer rates than older generations.
  • How Baby Boomers become volunteers is important - people asked to help by the volunteer organization have a much higher retention rate than those asked by their employer to volunteer.
  • Baby Boomers favorite type of volunteering is with religious organizations.
  • Baby Boomers' second favorite type of volunteer activity is educational and youth services - whereas previous generations chose civic, political, business and international volunteer work as their second most popular volunteer category.
  • Remaining in the workforce increases the likelihood that a Baby Boomer will stay in their volunteer position.
  • A higher educational level and a tendency to have children later in life seem to be factors in the high volunteer rate of Baby Boomers.
  • Baby Boomers volunteers who do management or professional tasks, rather than general labor, are more likely to continue to volunteer.
The Corporation for National and Community Service has projected the number of volunteers from 2007 to 2050. They created this projection by multiplying the estimated probability of volunteering by the number of people age 65 and older for each year. There are a little under 9 million senior volunteers at present. They predict that there will be 9 and a half million senior volunteers by 2010 and over 13 million in 2020. That is approximately a 44% increase in the next 13 years!

These statistics have great implications for public libraries. First, here is a great opportunity for libraries to gain more older adult volunteers in the future. Currently, many older adult volunteers help libraries by doing tasks such as pulling hold requests and shelving books. This research shows that many Boomers will want to be challenged and use their life skills in their volunteer work. Therefore, we should consider how to recruit older adults to give programs, to lead workshops at the library, or to become mentors at our libraries.

Related research report from Dec 2006:
Volunteer Growth in America: A Review of Trends since 1974

See also these previous posts:
How Volunteering Can Benefit Older Adults
Age Differences in Volunteering

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1 comment:

Larry R. said...

Great post. Along those lines, I just ran across a new senior social network:
http://www.seniorocity.com/

Wondering how they'll do!