Editor’s note: Tapping into the growing number of Boomer volunteers (those aged 50 and up) is a leading concern for many nonprofits looking to grow their capacity over the next five to 10 years and beyond. This article is the second in a series of four posts on the subject by experts and guest bloggers, Jill Friedman Fixler and Beth Steinhorn.
By Jill Friedman Fixler and Beth Steinhorn, JFFixler & Associates
For six years, 49-year old “Robert” has attended your annual dinner and makes occasional donations. He is a customer service manager with years of experience in customer research. He is thanked for his donations – but has never been asked personally to volunteer.
In our last blog, we introduced the idea of collaborative volunteer engagement as a key strategy to access the abundant skills, talents, and passions of the Boomer generation – the 78 million Americans who share a desire to apply their work experience in their volunteer life and to leave a social legacy. A commitment to Boomer volunteer engagement requires a cultural shift within the organization and it does not happen overnight.
We recommend starting with better understanding the Baby Boomer generation and better understanding yourself as an organization.
Know Your Target Audience
Research the Boomer generation and understand your target market . Boomers have unique skills and a passion for meaningful work. Understanding Boomer motivations will help you effectively harness their talents for your mission fulfillment.
- Read Boomer Volunteer Engagement for an overview of the Boomer generation and for additional recommended reading.
- Take a Webinar to learn more and talk with the authors.
- Explore the Resources available on VolunteerMatch.
- Engage a Boomer volunteer to summarize the copious research that is available.
An important step in organizational transformation is assessing current volunteer engagement practices and recognizing areas of need and opportunity for skills-based volunteer positions.
- Identify opportunities for new volunteer positions by completing the organizational assessment of volunteer engagement and the needs assessment that are two of the 14 downloadable exercises in Boomer Volunteer Engagement.
- Identify key stakeholders who can champion a volunteer engagement approach.
Structure Your organization to Support Innovation
- Establish a Task Force and empower it to assess your needs and identify one concrete area that can be addressed through a partnership between staff and a skilled Boomer volunteer.
- Then, develop and implement a plan to address that need using the skills and talents of a high-impact Boomer volunteer.
Who could do this? Let’s return to Robert. With assessment experience in customer research and people skills gained through years of customer service training, Robert could bring valuable skills to such a Task Force. He has demonstrated support for your mission – if asked, he might be honored to contribute in ways neither he nor you ever before imagined possible.
Who are the Roberts in your world? Who could help you assess your current practices, identify some needs that a skilled-Boomer volunteer could help fill, and lead the effort to innovate in small, incremental steps that will have lasting impact? Share these questions with colleagues over the next two weeks and check back for Part 3, in which we share some tips on how to create meaningful opportunities for your skilled volunteers.
For more information, read Jill Friedman Fixler’s book, Boomer Volunteer Engagement: Collaborate Today, Thrive Tomorrow.
Jill Friedman Fixler, Principle of JFFixler & Associates, is a national consultant on volunteer engagement and author with Sandie Eichberg of Boomer Volunteer Engagement: Collaborate Today, Thrive Tomorrow. Beth Steinhorn, Associate of JFFixler & Associates, edited the book.