Charities should repackage volunteering to attract baby-boomers, nfpSynergy report co-authored by Joe Saxton says

People born between about 1948 and 1960 will be more active in retirement but will have the funds and interests for other activities

Joe Saxton
Joe Saxton

Charities need to repackage volunteering activities to attract a growing demographic of baby-boomers who demand more from the experience, according to a report from the consultancy nfpSynergy.

How volunteering turns donations of time and talent into human gold, published today, says baby-boomers’ wealth means charities will have to compete for their time with a range of other activities over the next 10 years.

"The fact that the baby-boomer generation is reaching, or in some cases has already reached, early retirement presents massive challenges for volunteering," it says.

"Baby-boomers – those born between about 1948 and 1960 – are likely to be much more active in their retirement and have more skills and time while they remain so.

"Our concern is that turbulence will come because baby-boomers are much more likely to have the funds and interests for a range of other activities, such as skiing, cruises, weekend breaks and other hobbies. Charities will need to compete with those alternatives if volunteering is to get a look-in on baby-boomers’ busy schedules."

These volunteers "will want to use their skills and do useful work, whereas their predecessors – sometimes known as ‘the silent generation’ – tended to be more dutiful and less demanding in their outlook", the report says.

"The risk is that volunteering will suffer because, as the outside world changes, volunteering is undervalued and under-prioritised and organisations are not responding to the change.

"Later in life, both time and money may be more available, but life experience and multiple commitments will mean voluntary roles must be flexible and take professional skill-sets and retirement ambitions seriously."

Joe Saxton, co-founder of nfpSynergy and co-author of the report with Tim Harrison and Mhairi Gould , told Third Sector that retiring baby boomers put a bigger focus on using their skills than their older counterparts.

"You have is a big spike people coming up to their 70s, and that’s an increase of people that are still active and have skills they want to use," he said. "The silent generation would do whatever they were told to do. Now you have a different attitude and different numbers, and that’s going to continue for a decade."

He said: "Charities should focus not on the number of hours, but what volunteers will get out of it. You’re focusing on the things that are deliverable – we’re encouraging people to package it up."

Saxton added that charities needed to understand the motivation of their volunteers and be flexible.

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