The New Volunteers

Photo cred: www.nonprofitaction.org

The first wave of baby boomers has turned 65–and it seems everybody wants their own little slice of the retirement party cake. The Economist might warn us that this could only entail (to drop the metaphor) an increasing financial strain on national programs like Medicare and Social Security. Luckily, I don’t really read The Economist, and I’m certainly not here to gripe about who gets the corner pieces with the most frosting. I’m here to talk about the unpaid work these aging boomers are undertaking: volunteer work. Even better, these retirees aren’t just any volunteers—they’re the only kind of unpaid work that could bring years of experience and technical training to the table. With passion and plenty of free time, boomer volunteers are an invaluable resource to 5k races and bake sales nation-wide.

But they aren’t the only ones. There’s another demographic that’s taken to volunteer work on the weekends: they’re fashionable twenty-somethings, living in college towns, buying local and composting. According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, the national rate of volunteering for 19-to 24-year-olds has increased to 19% between 2002 and 2009.

Photo cred: www.eventkeeper.com

These are the “New Volunteers”: eco-friendly, occupy-happy, and perhaps most importantly, tech-savvy. Somewhere between fact-checking local politicians on their smart phones and reading Catch-22 on their Kindles, these cats have become fluent in the language of the cybersphere. At any given moment, you might catch one simultaneously updating his or her Facebook status and importing a resume to LinkedIn—all while maintaining a steady stream of tweets to the suddenly made-cool-again vintage popstar, Madonna. They live in a digital age of instantaneous information-sharing. And guess what? They think volunteering is dank. That’s right—it’s official. Volunteers are cool again.

So, as a volunteer coordinator, how can you possibly cater to these two dramatically different populations? What is the best way to appease the demands of the “modern” volunteer without intimidating those who might find themselves less technologically plugged-in? The answer is simple: create an online registration process that is efficient, personable and easy to navigate—and that’s just what we’ve done here at VolunteerLocal. Our software is the quickest and simplest way to manage, schedule and communicate with volunteers of any age. VolunteerLocal allows you to streamline the volunteer registration process without clutter or added complication. That means no passwords, no hidden fees, and no accounts. So: the “new” volunteer demands efficiency, a personal touch, and a clean approach that doesn’t over-complicate the process? No problem. VolunteerLocal is the new software to meet your volunteers halfway there. That means happy volunteers—and, of course, happy volunteer coordinators.

kaylee@volunteerlocal.com

Kaylee Williams is the President of VolunteerLocal.