Adapt Your Volunteer Program

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There are nearly 12.5 million volunteers in Canada. While that number may seem quite high, a small percentage of Canadians are carrying most of the load…and many of them are already in their seventies. As they step down and retire from their volunteer careers an enormous gap in volunteer contribution will occur, and a whole new generation of volunteers will be needed to fill their places – in new and varied ways.

Enter the baby boomers. There are 11 million Canadians in their forties, fifties or sixties and at a point in their lives where many seek new ways to connect to others and contribute to their communities.

You may be a baby boomer yourself. If so, you bring that valuable perspective to your work. Or, you may be younger and need to learn more about this large and influential demographic so that the work you do with baby boomer volunteers will be a good experience for them and will be effective for your organization.

Your organization’s ability to meet its mission might just depend on whether or not you can attract – and keep – baby boomers as volunteers. Voluntary organizations will need to be open to rethinking and restructuring the way they do business. Strategic volunteer management in the competitive new millennium means making changes in all aspects of your organization and requires the participation of everyone – from front line staff to the CEO – and even buy-in from your Board of Directors.

This introductory workbook is for the people who manage and work with volunteers in Canada’s 161,000 non-profit community organizations, charities, service clubs, foundations and aid agencies. You’ll find strategies and information about restructuring and rethinking your approach to volunteers in order to successfully recruit and retain this potential group of key volunteers. In addition, you’ll find a selection of exercises to help you reflect on how your organization can tap into the energy and expertise of baby boomer volunteers.

Consider the facts:

  • Voluntary organizations are more or less dependent on volunteers to get their work done.
  • Canadian volunteers contributed over two billion volunteer hours to organizations in 2007 – the equivalent of one million full-time jobs.
  • Every year, over 12.5 million volunteers give their time, energy and skills to make our communities better.
  • There is a soft decline of 1-2% per year in volunteering in Canada. A small percentage of Canadians are carrying most of the load, and many of them are already in their seventies.
  • As older volunteers step down and become fewer in number, a whole new generation of volunteers needs to fill their places – in new and varied ways.
  • In 2008, a baby boomer turned 50 every seven seconds.
  • Three out of ten baby boomers who volunteer do not return for a second year. 20% of these lost volunteers are never replaced.

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