Last week I wrote about how volunteering among high school students was less about altruism and more about adding heft to applications to top colleges. Now grandparents are embracing enlightened volunteering. But the goal is different: to make sure their golden years don't amount to a lump of coal.
Seniors sometimes volunteer only to find themselves stuck in jobs they either shouldn't be doing or don't want to do. Unlike your typical high school band geek, retirees have lots of experiences and skills that could be useful to nonprofits. Fortunately, there are organizations that can help them find the right match.
Hands On Network, a volunteer clearinghouse based in Atlanta that serves more than 50 communities, is trying to increase volunteerism by 10% over two years, says Michelle Nunn, the group's chief executive. The group is counting on a new partnership with AARP, the membership group for older Americans, to help meet that target, mainly by recruiting retirees to help direct projects and reel in other volunteers.
To find the right gig, retirement experts suggest, among other things, that retirees do what inspires them. But they also say "It's All Right to be Selfish".
Of course, you want to do something meaningful as a volunteer, and that's reward enough. Or at least it's supposed to be. But the biggest incentive for many volunteers is what they get from the work -- whether it's freebies from, say, the local theater group, or pats on the back from a nonprofit's leadership, or the simple satisfaction that comes from meeting and making friends with other volunteers.
And don't forget the grandpas that volunteer to meet other seniors--high school senior girls that is.