This is a guest post by Erin Palmer. Erin is a writer and editor for University Alliance which works with colleges such as Villanova University.
Being retired doesn’t always mean moving to the beach or taking up golf. But what retirement does offer is the gift of time. The time gained for pursuing the passions that have been pushed aside during the busy work weeks of years past. And for many, this means volunteering.
Getting retirees involved in volunteering is mutually beneficial. For the retiree, it is a chance to give back to the community, help people or support a cause. For the organization, it is a chance to gain volunteers with years of expertise and experience.
According to the Senior Corps 2010-2011 Fact Sheet, the organization had 337,000 volunteers age 55 and over for the year in 2010. These volunteers served 96.2 million hours in 65,000 local organizations. Any organization can benefit hugely from that sort of help, which is why retirees are such an important resource for nonprofits. These tips can help nonprofits find and keep retired volunteers.
Recruiting retired workers to help with a cause starts with finding the right people. Organizations like VolunteerMatch can help a nonprofit find volunteers. This site partners with Senior Corps, so finding retired volunteers is made very easy.
Traditional recruiting methods can also work. Like seeking out active retirees through organizations that they might already belong to, such as retirement groups, senior centers and churches.
Motivating retirees to volunteer
Just because people are retired doesn’t mean that they aren’t looking to be challenged. To get volunteers – of any age – truly excited about helping, it is important to allow them to use their skills. Once potential volunteers are found, talk to them. Find out what they can do and figure out the best way to incorporate those skills into the nonprofit’s mission.
Keep in mind that the potential volunteers have other interests and commitments. Determine how much time they have to commit, but don’t place pressure for more hours. Freedom is one of the most appealing parts of retirement for a lot of people. Offering the chance to build their own schedule might make these senior volunteers more likely to commit to volunteering.
With all a lifetime of work experience, retirees have a lot of expertise and may be used to doing things their own way. But this doesn’t mean that they aren’t willing to learn. It is about creating an atmosphere where volunteers of any age aren’t afraid to learn something new and to ask for help. Though retirees come with skills of their own, teaching them new skills is a part of the appeal.
While new or different technologies or work methodologies can be a major adjustment for retirees, be patient during the adjustment process and soon these volunteers will be applying their new skills and ready for anything.
Nonprofits rely on the help and commitment of volunteers. The best volunteers are the ones who truly care about the cause. Of course, having years of experience and hours of available time to dedicate towards volunteering certainly doesn’t hurt. Retirees are a resource that any nonprofit should be so lucky to have. Life doesn’t stop when a person is done working. Retirement is not the end of a career. It is the beginning of a life spent making the world a better place.
This guest post was by Erin Palmer. Erin is a writer and editor for University Alliance which works with colleges such as Villanova University. Erin writes about nonprofit and public sector topics relevant to Villanova’s Master of Public Administration Degree.
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