Feeling the Boom
More likely to volunteer
Not only are boomers giving to starkly different organizations than their parents gave to, but their volunteering tends to be more active, local and family oriented.
“Boomers are big into volunteering, especially when it involves their children in some way,” says Jeff Love, director of strategic issues research at AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization dedicated to making life better for people 50 and over. “They are the soccer coach, the PTA chairman, the Cub Scout den mother.”
AARP has conducted extensive polling and tracking of baby boomers to determine the real differences between their generation and their parents’ generation.
“We’ve been thinking about [baby boomers] for 10 years now — ever since we discovered that they were getting older — and that our membership will be largely composed of [baby boomers], as they move into the older cohort,” Love says. “The main thing we found in studying this group is that they want things on their terms.”
For example, most of AARP’s baby-boomer members prefer not to have a list generated for them of assisted-living facilities to research for their parents (one of the organization’s services). They prefer instead for AARP to suggest places to visit so they can unearth the information for themselves.
“[Boomers] want an organization to facilitate them being able to do things, and not the organization simply doing things for them,” Love avows. “We serve as a resource and adjust our programs to give them what they want and need.”
A diverse generation
From its post-World War II beginnings, the baby boomer generation has had a substantial impact on society. Boomers are more racially and ethnically diverse than older generations, with households almost evenly divided between those with children and those without. Remember, the generation itself spans 19 years, so the lifestages of older and younger boomers differ. (Today, 40-year-olds are considered baby boomers. They did not experience Vietnam on any level, nor were they a part of the counterculture revolution in the 1960s.)