Thursday, February 25, 2021

Graduate Student on Effective Engagement of Senior Volunteers

The number of Americans over the age of 65 is steadily increasing with a current population of 56 million predicted to grow to 94.7 million in forty years. In a Nonprofit Quarterly article titled “Engaging Our Elders: The Power and Potential of Senior Volunteerism,” Joshua Braverman, social psychology graduate student in the Psychology Department at the University of Minnesota, discusses how to productively engage seniors in volunteerism.

One reason to encourage seniors to volunteer is the ease of recruiting and deploying them. Additionally, due to their age seniors have more life experience and useful skills which provides other advantages to recruiting seniors. However, despite these advantages, there are challenges with engaging older volunteers including volunteer health, the use of technology, and seasonal factors.

Through the Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration (MAVA)’s study, Braverman and colleagues found that seniors are drawn to volunteerism for several reasons including wanting to meet new people, to give back to the community, and to pass along knowledge. Another finding was the importance of fostering a space for cross-generational volunteerism. Volunteers from different generations bring varying skills, knowledge, and experiences to the organization. Including seniors in volunteer opportunities is beneficial to both the volunteer and the organization as this experience can help seniors with feelings of isolation and apply their many contributions to the organization.

Composed by Flora Pollack, communications assistant.