Year of Publication



Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Date Available


Executive Summary

Statement of the Problem

Faced with tight budgets and expanding needs to serve and roles to play in the community, non-profit organizations have a shortage of volunteers. Especially desired are knowledgeable, passionate and dependable volunteers willing to serve on a regular basis. Although, the largest generation in our history, the Baby Boomers, which comprise 28% of American citizens and 77 million people, are retiring and acquiring increased free time, many are not being connected with volunteer opportunities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that only one-third of those between ages 43 to 61 are serving as volunteers (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2004). This indicates that two-thirds of Baby Boomers are not currently volunteering and could be potential sources of time, financial support, expertise and advocacy for these organizations. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, “they are untapped resources of extraordinary proportions. They are the largest, healthiest, best-educated generation in history- and they can leave an incredible legacy through service to others” (Eisner, 2007).

Research Question

The research question that I seek to answer is, “How can non-profit organizations in Central Kentucky prepare to utilize the time, talents and resources of a retiring Baby Boom generation?” I seek to identify the current levels of volunteerism in Central Kentucky as well as targeted recruitment efforts towards older citizens and answer the following questions:

  • Are retiring citizens being actively recruited and utilized in non-profits in Central Kentucky?
  • What are the advantages and benefits of utilizing retiring citizens for volunteer purposes to accomplish the mission and daily tasks of non-profit organizations?


The indication that this “untapped” resource is not being utilized to its full potential by nonprofits has been found through my research of 21 Central Kentucky nonprofit agencies. I have conducted this research using open-ended phone survey questions and collecting data about the current usage and targeted recruitment efforts towards retiring citizens. I have compiled survey data statistics grouped into categories of organizations with light (40-200 volunteers) medium (201-500 volunteers) and heavy (501+ volunteers) annual usage. These data are grouped into number of volunteers currently utilized annually and percentage of volunteers over age 55, additional volunteers needed annually and types of volunteer services that the organizations identified as most immediate needs. Also analyzed was the percentage of those volunteer coordinators who were familiar with national senior volunteer programs such as Senior Corp, GetInvolved and the Corporation for National Service. In terms of qualitative data, I report respondent insights on the advantages and disadvantages of working with older volunteers, future recruitment plans for getting more senior volunteers, and opportunities for family volunteerism.


The 21 non-profit organizations surveyed were divided into three categories; light, medium and heavy volunteer usage, with seven organizations in each category. The number of volunteers used annually ranged from 40 to 9,217 volunteers per year with a median of 300 volunteers. The analysis indicated that as organizations use more volunteers and fall into a more “heavy” volunteer usage category, they also utilize more senior volunteers. This was indicated by the averages of senior volunteers for light usage (24%), medium usage (30%) and heavy usage (33%) organizations. The results from the study of the number of additional volunteers that could be utilized annually indicated that those organizations ranging from 201-500 annual volunteers have the greatest need for more volunteers with a mean of 523 volunteers needed per year. The light and heavy usage organizations had similar needs for additional volunteers stating that they could utilize an average of 273 volunteers and 202 volunteers, respectively. Analysis of the types of work most volunteers will be needed for demonstrated the greatest need for volunteers with participant/patient services, youth needs and tutoring/literacy training. These needs were followed closely by special events. The lowest areas of need were in the areas of transportation and hospitality. However, there were a variety of areas in which volunteers were needed that were identified through survey analysis.

Conclusions and Recommendations

From this analysis it is concluded that additional recruitment efforts should be initiated by non-profit organizations in Central Kentucky. These may include utilizing national services such as the Senior Corps and the Corporation for National and Community Service programs as well as directly targeting retiring baby boomers. Some suggestions for this recruitment include workplace campaigns, public relations presentations at community organization and association meetings, special events targeted at substantive project work and family events, and peer recruitment events. It will also be important to recognize and respect these volunteers for their experience and knowledge they will provide for these organizations in order to retain their services. There should be additional research completed by the non-profit organizations pertaining to the time, costs, resources, and locations of these older citizens before beginning the proposed volunteer recruitment process.



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