Boomer volunteers reap great benefits

Volunteering with Red Cross

Boomer volunteers are heroes! OK, all volunteers are heroes – just ask any organization that uses them. They couldn’t function without their volunteers, especially the non-profit groups.

But Baby Boomers have the highest volunteer rate of any other generation – consistently more than 30 percent for most of the last decade even before we started retiring and had more time to contribute.  And we volunteer more hours on average than volunteers of other age groups. It's a high priority in our lives.

The percentage rate of Boomer volunteers has dropped some over the last few years, a phenomenon some analysts attribute to the recent recession. We had to focus more on staying above water, making the best of a not-so-great situation.

There’s also been some suggestion that maybe Boomers haven’t found the perfect fit yet – we’re more interested in actually providing value in our volunteer efforts rather than just showing up as another warm body.

And we’re still volunteering at an impressive rate. A 2005 study by the Corporation for National and Community Service showed that nearly half of Boomers with a college education (49.8 percent) spent time volunteering, compared to about a fourth of Boomers (25.7 percent) without a college education.

Volunteers sort books for fundraiser

More female Boomers volunteer than males – 36.9 percent women and 29.4 percent men. Boomers with strong ties to their communities also tend to volunteer at a higher rate – 45 percent of those who own businesses compared to 30 percent of those who don’t and 34 percent of homeowners compared to 20 percent of non-homeowners.

That makes sense – we have more at stake, a bigger investment in our communities thriving.

Not only do Boomer volunteers help others and their communities, we get tremendous benefits from our efforts.

Why we do it

  • For the most part, it feels good – doing good for others lifts our spirits and gives us warm fuzzy feelings about ourselves.
  • We’re all about having gusto in our lives and studies consistently show that volunteering helps us be more engaged and more active, physically and emotionally.
  • It’s a great social activity and opportunity to make new friends, participate in meaningful projects with old friends, be part of a team that’s bigger than us and be more connected with people.
  • We’re committed to healthy aging and volunteering has been proven to boost our health. It reduces stress in our lives, decreases depression, builds strength and energy and gives us purpose.

  • We always want to know that we matter, that we make a difference. What better way to ensure that legacy than volunteering our skills, expertise and experience where needed?
  • We’re always interested in learning and our personal growth and that’s possible when we volunteer in fields we haven’t explored before.

Let’s face it - Boomer volunteers are just good people. We care. Not only do we want to flourish, we want our communities to flourish as well. And we want to be good role models for our children and grandchildren.