SOURCE: VolunteerMatch

July 16, 2007 16:11 ET

Baby Boomers Taking a Second Look at Volunteering

New Study Looks for Keys to Unlock the Generosity of the Me Generation; High Expectations, Skilled Volunteers and the Internet Are Reshaping the Future of Volunteering

PHILADELPHIA, PA--(Marketwire - July 16, 2007) - Today, the National Conference on Volunteering and Service saw the release of a new research study by VolunteerMatch that takes a closer look at boomers and civic engagement to find that nearly two-thirds of older, non-volunteering boomers are interested in getting involved, yet many aren't sure where to find the right opportunity. The study, presented with the support of the MetLife Foundation, seeks to provide useful insights for nonprofits interested in expanding their capacity to attract and engage this talented population.

"We see tremendous vitality and innovation in civil society today," said Greg Baldwin, president of VolunteerMatch. "More and more organizations understand the strength and talent of volunteers and the significance of the opportunity with the boomer generation -- this study points to how they can unlock that potential."

"Great Expectations: Boomers and the Future of Volunteering" explores both the nonprofit and the volunteer perspective, but focuses on identifying the evolving motivations, attitudes, skills and expectations of volunteers as they mature. The study also underscores the growing use of the Internet among older Americans and illustrates its usefulness as a tool for connecting volunteers with local nonprofit organizations.

Among the Key Findings of the report:

Many older non-volunteers are reconsidering volunteering

--  More than half of 55+ non-volunteers report
    some interest in volunteering
--  Professionals and women aged 55-64 are the
    most likely to be interested
    

Older non-volunteers aren't volunteering because they haven't found the right opportunity

--  32% of non-volunteers 55+ would prefer a
    volunteer activity that helps them learn
    new skills or explore new interests
    

Older adult volunteers are more likely to appreciate the personal significance of volunteering

--  VolunteerMatch users age 55+ are contributing nearly 100 hours a year
    more than users aged 30-39 (226 hours vs. 132 hours)
--  75% of users 55+ view volunteering as "very important" or "one of the
    most important" things in their life
    

Volunteers grow increasingly interested in making use of their career and non-career related skills as they mature

--  A majority of VolunteerMatch users 55+ agree that they would prefer a
    volunteer opportunity that makes use of their personal or professional
    skills
    

The Internet is making it easier for people of all ages to find nonprofit organizations that need help

--  66% of those surveyed report that their use of the Internet has made
    it easier for them to find an organization that needed help
--  61% report that it has made it easier to find interesting
    opportunities
    

Positive experiences of older volunteers who found their volunteer opportunities online -- and nonprofits that use the Web to recruit volunteers -- suggest that the Internet can be a powerful tool for helping more older adults find a meaningful place to volunteer.

"This study underscores the opportunity for nonprofits to engage the time and talent of this exceptional generation and the promise of the Internet as a tool to recruit them," said John S. Gomperts, president of Civic Ventures and CEO of Experience Corps. "With knowledge and investment we can transform the aging of the baby boom generation from a potential crisis into an historic opportunity."

"Great Expectations: Boomers and the Future of Volunteering" echoes the working hypothesis of other researchers and practitioners in the field that older volunteers, with their desire to apply a lifetime of experience and skill, have expectations for their volunteer commitments that don't currently align with the perceived need for skilled volunteers among nonprofits. The findings also suggest that knowledge and education, coupled with a more effective communication infrastructure, can realign these dynamics by reinforcing high expectations and empowering more organizations to make the most of their volunteer initiatives.

To help put the report's findings into action, VolunteerMatch is collaborating with the federal Corporation for National and Community Service to launch a new, cutting-edge volunteer search engine aimed at attracting more Baby Boomers and 55+ volunteers. Combining the Corporation's experience in recruiting older adults with VolunteerMatch's expertise in online recruitment, the new 55+ channel at www.getinvolved.gov will help connect more Boomers with nonprofits that need their skills and expertise.

"The coming wave of Baby Boomers is one of the best opportunities the nonprofit sector has ever had to expand its reach and impact," said David Eisner, CEO of the Corporation for National & Community Service. "If we do this right, we will change the face of volunteering and find millions of new volunteers to tackle our toughest social problems."

About the Report:

The research study was conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates over a four-month period in summer 2006. The study included responses from current VolunteerMatch volunteers and registered nonprofits, as well as a national telephone survey of 55+ non-volunteers.

To read the full report, visit http://www.volunteermatch.org/greatexpectations

About VolunteerMatch:

VolunteerMatch's mission is to help everyone find a great place to volunteer by making it easier for good people and good causes to connect. Its popular online service supports a social network of over a million civic-minded users including the employees, customers and members of some of America's most recognized businesses and institutions. The service is the preferred volunteer recruiting network for tens of thousands of nonprofits nationwide and is the top search result for "volunteer" on both Google and Yahoo! In 2006 the VolunteerMatch network delivered over 75,000,000 pages of information on service and volunteering; welcomed 4.8 million visitors and supported 44,521 registered nonprofits serving local communities across the country. VolunteerMatch is the recipient of Webby Awards for "Activism" and "Services," and has been recognized for its accomplishments by The White House, M.I.T., and the Smithsonian Institution.

About MetLife Foundation:

MetLife Foundation was established in 1976 by MetLife to carry on its long-standing tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. The Foundation has been involved in a variety of aging-related initiatives addressing issues of civic involvement, intergenerational activities, caregiving, mental fitness and health and wellness. For more information about MetLife Foundation, visit www.metlife.org.

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