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Retaining Your Baby Boomer Volunteers

Once you’ve succeeded in recruiting baby boomer volunteers for your organization, it is important to keep them active and engaged. Some of the same approaches and incentives used to retain your employees can be used to retain your volunteers.

Why baby boomers stop volunteering How to keep them engaged
The expectations weren’t clear. Set up clear orientation processes:

  • Be ready – Once volunteers arrive, don’t keep them waiting.
  • Make volunteers feel welcome – When you first meet your volunteers, offer a tour of the office or event area, make coffee or water available and don’t hold back your enthusiasm.
  • Introduce volunteers to other staff members – Avoid any potential tension between volunteers and staff positions by being clear about roles and responsibilities.
  • Set expectations – Be clear with your volunteers about what is expected of them. Tell them what you need accomplished and act as a resource should they have questions or concerns.
  • Provide enough training – Take time to give them the tools they need to do their volunteer work, including clear guidelines.
They don’t have time.
  • Design episodic volunteer opportunities – Offer flexible schedules, where possible.
  • Make it easy for them – Offer parking permits, bus fare, and schedules that don’t conflict with commuter traffic or meal times.
They don’t feel appreciated.
  • Thank them – Congratulate your volunteers on a job well done. Do it often.
  • Check in – Periodically ask them how comfortable they are with their level of duties.
  • Recognize volunteers who show greater interest by promoting them to positions of greater responsibility.
  • Make it a rewarding experience – Let people know they’re important. Offer perks such as lunch on a long day, or host volunteer appreciation activities.
  • Find out what recognition means to your volunteers – not everyone feels recognized in the same way.
The organization doesn’t “walk its talk.”
  • Actions speak volumes – Be the professional, well-run organization they believe you to be.
  • Remember that for baby boomers, feeling purposeful is key – The more engaged they are, the more likely they are to continue volunteering.
  • Respect their commitment to your cause – Treat them as partners, not subordinates.

Volunteering – Your Way

Whatever your interests may be, you can make a valuable contribution as a volunteer, in lots of different ways.

Four Main Reasons to Volunteer

  1. Make a contribution to society.
  2. Share your skills.
  3. Support a cause.
  4. Do something meaningful with your friends and colleagues.

One of these reasons probably makes sense for you. You may already be working as a volunteer or are thinking about what you might want to do next. Whatever your reason, there are many different opportunities out there-and organizations that need your help.

Finding the right volunteer opportunity can be like finding the right job fit–and it can change, just like a job can.

Does this sound like you?

You know what matters to you and where you want to contribute

Do you? You could…
Have experience in marketing? Help an organization plan their public relations campaign.
Drive a bus? Renew that license and take a hockey team to a tournament.
Know how to fundraise? Help an organization apply for grants or tap into corporate donors.
Have financial or IT expertise? Join a board of directors or design a website.
Like to be outdoors? Walk a dog at your local Humane Society.

You aren’t sure how you want to contribute and might want to try something new

You might want to think about ways to:
Connect to a cause that matters to you.
Respond to a need in your community.
Make an inventory of your skills and experience and match them to opportunities.
Join your friends and family on their favorite projects, or bring a friend to one of yours.