1. Respect Their Schedules
Boomers are time-stretched. They are likely to still be working; they often are looking after children as well as helping out aging parents; and they love to travel and have many hobbies.
Give them flexible opportunities that include short-term timelines with clear start and finish dates. Consider family volunteer opportunities so that volunteers do not have to choose between volunteering and being with their families. Older boomers will enjoy volunteering alongside their grandchildren.
2. Treat Them as Colleagues
Don't be alarmed when your boomer volunteers resist authority, talk back, or question how things are being done. The ultimate anti-authoritarians, baby boomers do not like to be told what to do. Ask them; don't tell them. Make every step of the volunteer process a participatory one. Take advantage of their intelligence, experience, and education.
3. Develop Opportunities That Really Matter
Offer meaningful and challenging volunteer opportunities. Boomers are knowledgeable about social issues, may have strong opinions, and may be experienced social activists. Develop volunteer opportunities that take advantage of their passions and their know-how. Involve them in decision making and goal setting. No envelope stuffing please.
4. Remember That Volunteering Is Optional
Remember that boomers don't have to volunteer. Their parents may have volunteered because it was what was expected, but boomers are the ultimate consumers and see volunteering as a way to get their own needs met as well as providing service to others.
Let them tell you what they need; they won't be shy. They may be looking for recognition, friendship, the opportunity to be creative, to be in charge of something, to relax, to learn new skills, or set an example for their grandchildren.
5. Make Sure You Are Organized and Professional
Baby boomers will not tolerate disorganization, or sloppiness of any kind. They have been working all of their lives, often in responsible positions, so they know what works and what doesn't in organizations.
Be clear, be organized, and don't make your boomer volunteers root around for answers to their questions. Assign someone on your staff to be point person. Boomers will not like it if they get a different person every time they call or ask for assistance.
6. Train With Relevance
Provide training that is relevant, meaningful, and well-presented. This generation is already highly credentialed and is not looking for more certifications. They want education that will help them develop their full potential, not training that is all about regulations and control.
Use adult learning models. Treat volunteers as colleagues, not students. Use discussion, not lectures. Make lessons experiential, not book-based.
7. Reach BoomersThrough Their Peers
Appeal to baby boomers through their peers. They are much more likely to respond to messages from their peers than celebrities or authority figures. Recruitment materials should focus on other boomer volunteers with lots of stories and testimonials.
You could even employ nostalgia for the older boomers. Take a look at some of the advertising from financial companies that are targeting boomers--especially Ameriprise and Fidelity.
8. Recruit Boomers at Work
Since most boomers are still working, try recruiting them at the office. Many employers have programs for their workers, allowing them to use company time to volunteer for select organizations. Work with these companies and their volunteer coordinators.