All eyes seem to be turning to the baby boomers as potential volunteers.
Recognizing the extraordinary volunteer power among America's 77 million baby boomers, the CNCS has developed a multi-year public service ad campaign asking baby boomers to get involved with their communities.
Why the Sudden Interest?
In 2006 baby boomers started turning 60 years old. The entire generation (1946-1964) is now between the ages of 42 and 60, prime ages for volunteering.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 33.2% of all boomers (25.8 million people) volunteered for formal organizations in 2005, representing the highest rate of volunteering of any age group (and standing more than four percentage points above the national average of 29%).
Baby boomers also exhibit many characteristics that make for good volunteers. David Eisner, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, said at the White House Conference, "America’s baby boomers are an untapped resource of extraordinary proportions. They are the largest, healthiest, best-educated generation in history – and they can leave an incredible legacy through service to others,"
Research About Baby Boomer Volunteers Is Revealing
- Boomer volunteering is highest among those who work part-time. Almost half (46.3%) of all boomers who work part-time also volunteer, compared to one-third (33.7%) of boomers who work full-time and one-quarter (24.3%) of boomers who are either unemployed or not in the labor force.
- Boomers engage in very diverse volunteer activities. Direct service interests include collecting and preparing food, tutoring, teaching, and mentoring. The indirect interests that boomers typically favor include fundraising, professional and management services, and general labor.
- Boomers are more apt to volunteer with more than one organization, whereas the average volunteer supports only one organization at a time. That may indicate that boomers can be attracted to volunteering in several capacities.
- Strong community ties increase volunteering. Boomers who own businesses and are homeowners have higher volunteer rates – 45% and 34% respectively - than do non-business owners (30%) and non-homeowners (20%). This is true even after controlling for other factors, including education levels, race and ethnicity.
- Boomer women volunteer at a higher rate than boomer men. Approximately 36.9% of boomer women volunteer, compared to 29.4% of boomer men. Boomer males volunteer at a higher rate than all other male age groups.
- College-educated boomers have a higher volunteer rate (49.8%) than boomers without a college education (25.7%), and non-college educated minorities volunteer at higher rates than non-college educated whites.
- Baby boomers are a gregarious lot and less likely to volunteer out of a sense of duty or obligation, and more likely to volunteer as part of a social interaction.
- The biggest single inducement for boomers to volunteer is being asked by someone with whom he/she has an established relationship.
- Volunteering tends to peak at mid-life, around the current age of baby boomers, and then declines slightly.
The baby boom generation really is the "pig in the python" and it is moving across your line of sight, right now. Your nonprofit organization cannot afford to miss out on the volunteer possibilities.
Note: The "Get Involved" campaign is being launched in partnership with America’s nonprofit community. Many organizations have signed on as campaign supporters, including AARP, the American Red Cross, America’s Promise, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Habitat for Humanity, Catholic Charities, and Communities in Schools. You can become a partner too at GetInvolved.gov