- At Volunteer Canada, you will find a wealth of information, including links to the national network of Volunteer Centres. These Volunteer Centres can help you find opportunities close to home or far away.
- Start with a cause that matters to you
- Search online for websites and information related to your cause or issue.
For social causes, you can also try online directories. For example, the 211 system offers both a phone and online directory of community services. 211 service is available in many parts of Canada, and the list is growing. United Way organizations fund local community services in many parts of Canada. Most of these organizations are looking for volunteers and you can really make a difference.
- Attend a benefit, festival or event that links to your passion.
You’ll meet other people who share interests and passions and this may lead to even more opportunities.
- Search for specific opportunities online
There are many online resources available that link to real-time volunteer openings. Two examples are the Charity Village online search or the Workopolis Readiness Quiz which help you to match your interests with volunteer opportunities right across Canada.
- Spread the word!
Use your own networks to find out about volunteer activities. Tell friends and family what you are looking for and mention your skills and interests.
Baby boomers are busy people. There is lots of competition for their attention and their time, so you’ll need strategic and targeted recruitment efforts.
The four C’s of recruitment
- Connect to boomers
Reach and connect to baby boomers through key influencers, like their peers. If you have baby boomer volunteers already involved in your organization, they are your very best recruitment ambassadors. Research shows that word of mouth promotion is one of the best ways to recruit volunteers. Encourage your current baby boomer volunteers to spread the word and encourage others to get involved.Baby boomers are highly influenced by expert opinion. Use evidence-based research findings or testimonials from experts or high profile members of the community.
Many of Canada’s baby boomers are in the workforce – either full-time or part-time – so workplaces are important places to connect with them. Target workplaces that match the volunteer needs of your organization. Explain how employees’ particular qualifications would help further your cause. If there are baby boomers nearing retirement connect with them and give a personal invitation to find out more about volunteering with your organization. One way to do this is to get on the agenda of retirement planning seminars or “lunch and learn” events offered through HR departments.
You can also connect with baby boomer volunteers out in the community. Consider organizing activities and services that families can do together and offer opportunities for intergenerational volunteering. For example, many families are looking for opportunities to give of their time during the holiday season. Look for opportunities to speak about your organization at places where baby boomers gather – like running clubs, yoga studios, lectures, arts or sports events. Have your best and brightest ambassadors there to talk to about volunteering. And don’t forget your own clients! Users of your services will very often come back to volunteer. You just need to ask.
Finally, connect with potential baby boomer volunteers online. More and more baby boomers are looking for information of every kind online. An easy way to promote your volunteer opportunities is to make sure that they can “Google” you to find the information they need. There are also several options for posting your recruitment message online through your local volunteer centre’s website, CharityVillage.com or Workopolis. When they click the link and go to your website, make sure that your website is current and welcoming. Since many baby boomers are also using social networking sites, consider connecting with them there. To find out more about new media tools like blogs, wikis, social networks and podcasts, click here.
- Create key messages
When you have a sense of where to connect with potential baby boomer volunteers, you’ll need to create key messages that build on what we know about baby boomers and what motivates them.
Motivations for baby boomers General recruitment messages Commitment to a cause-and making a difference Volunteering builds your community.Link the volunteer position directly to the mission of the organization Personal development (mental and spiritual) Find new purpose. Concern for health and well being Boost your health and reduce your stress. Meet other people who share interests and passions Volunteering is social networking–and fun.
- Customize for different baby boomer audiences
Baby boomers are a huge group with wide ranging ages, interests and backgrounds so you will need to segment your audience and recruit accordingly. For example, baby boomers who were born in South Asia may not relate to boomer pop references from North America. Similarly, baby boomers who were born in the 1960s have different priorities than older boomers.
- Communicate widely with high quality materials
Baby boomers respond to professional high quality packaging so keep that in mind when you create and assemble your recruitment materials (like annual reports, mission statements, position descriptions, goals and program descriptions, etc.) Make sure that your online and print communication materials have the same high quality standards. Use your local media to publicize your cause or your service at every opportunity and appeal to experienced seasoned members of the community directly. Research shows that of the top volunteers in Canada 20% responded to information in the media.
Benefits to the Community – and You
- Volunteering builds your community
Volunteering encourages interaction between people living in a community and strengthens community connections.
When you volunteer, you are actually improving the life of your own community, and creating social capital at the same time. Social capital is a kind of currency for healthy living and grows when people in the community are involved in civic activities and earn the trust and cooperation of others. The more social capital there is, the healthier and more vibrant your community.
- Boost your own health
Feeling connected to community can also play a key role in how healthy you feel. According to researchers from Harvard University, volunteering is a reflection of social connectedness, which is strongly associated with the health of the people in that community.
Results from the Canadian Community Health Survey, which takes a close look at how connected Canadians feel from coast to coast, show that two-thirds (64%) have a strong sense of community belonging. Of this group, two-thirds also feel that their health is excellent or very good.
- Reduce your stress
According to Harvard cardiologist Herbert Benson, known for his work on the relaxation response (the body’s ability to shift into a deep state of rest), the health benefits of doing good things for others are similar to those experienced by anyone who practices yoga, spirituality and meditation, namely a slowing down of heart rate and a decrease in blood pressure.The key may lie in the sense of calmness that comes from helping others, also known as the helper’s high. These altruistic feelings reinforce the sense that one’s life has a purpose. In turn, this enhances self-esteem, which then provides the motivation for a person to make better lifestyle choices.
- Find new purpose
As we grow older, volunteering appears to give new meaning to life, reducing anxiety and depression and increasing life satisfaction.Indeed, a University of Michigan Study of 423 older couples found that people who make a contribution to the lives of others may help to extend their own lives.
Benefits beyond your health
- In 2000, the National Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating found that people were able to describe the benefits they gained from volunteering:
- 79% of volunteers said that their volunteer activities helped them with their interpersonal skills, such as understanding people better, motivating others and dealing with difficult situations;
- 68% of volunteers said that volunteering helped them develop better communication skills;
- 63% reported increased knowledge about issues related to their volunteering.