Four Tips to Increase Retention of Baby Boomer Volunteers
Baby boomers offer enormous volunteer potential to nonprofit organizations, due to the large size of this generation and a greater likelihood to volunteer than their parents. But to attract baby boomers to volunteering and ensure that they return year after year, nonprofits need to rethink the volunteer opportunities they offer this highly educated and skilled, healthy and wealthy generation as they begin to retire in great numbers over the next 10 to 15 years.
According to the research report “Keeping Baby Boomers Volunteering: A Research Brief on Volunteer Retention and Turnover,” authored by the Corporation for National and Community Service, “three out of every 10 boomer volunteers choose not to volunteer in the following year.”
The report analyzes data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2002 to 2006 to trace volunteer habits of baby boomers and offer insight into what makes them volunteer.
The report recommends the following four tips to increasing baby boomer volunteer retention:
1. Keep volunteers engaged. Find ways to cultivate greater interest and involvement in your organization and encourage volunteers to take ownership of the work they do.
“The more time a volunteer spends volunteering with an organization and the more volunteer activities a volunteer is involved with, the more likely she or he is to keep volunteering,” according to the report.
2. Reach out to people who already are volunteering with another organization. Ask people who already have displayed a commitment to a cause to do more by helping your organization.
3. Let potential volunteers know about the more attractive volunteer opportunities you offer and make less attractive opportunities more inviting.
“Volunteers doing professional or management tasks also have above-average retention rates, while volunteers that provide general labor or supply transportation have below-average retention rates,” the report states.
4. Recruit volunteers directly, rather than having corporations recruit their employees to volunteer for you. “An individual that is pressured — or feels pressured — to volunteer by an employer may respond to the initial request but is far less likely to make a long-term commitment,” according to the report.
Putting practices in place to increase volunteer retention rates will increase your overall volunteer rates. As the report states, “Volunteer turnover should be seen as just as undesirable as turnover among paid employees. For most businesses and nonprofits, a 30 percent employee turnover rate would be an indication of a workplace problem. The same should be true for volunteers.”
Cultivating existing volunteers in much the same way you do donors can lead to increased retention, as does viewing volunteers as integral parts of your organization’s success, as opposed to a source of free labor.
To read the complete report, http://www.nationalservice.gov/pdf/07_0307_boomer_report.pdf