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Engaging Generations of Volunteers

Baby Boomer Volunteers

The Boomers are coming! The Boomers are coming! It's the cry heard from coast to coast as organizations utilizing volunteers prepare for one of the largest generations in modern history to transition out of full-time careers and into encore careers or active retirement. Whatever their path, one thing is clear: everyone hopes to engage the expertise and energy of the 55+ crowd!

Generation X Volunteers

One of the hot topics these days is engaging the Baby Boomer population. At the same time, youth involvement is incredibly dynamic, evolving from pure service-learning to engaging young people in planning and leadership positions. Yet while the focus on these two groups is indeed appropriate, the generation in-between is often ignored: Generation X.

As a generation with a strong tradition of volunteerism, as well as the group that will be helming the next wave of leadership positions (including volunteer management!) in public good organizations, more attention should be paid to those volunteers born in the late sixties through late seventies. Here are some resources on engaging Generation X:

Older/Senior Volunteers

One of the most active generations in volunteer service is that segment of society who are now enjoying their retirement. Whether you prefer the term "senior" or "older," here are some great ways to engage volunteers over 65:

Youth Volunteers (AKA Generation Y, Millenials, Digital Natives)

Today's young people are known by several different titles: Generation Y, the Millenials, the Digital Natives. Until the dust settles on one name, we'll just go with youth volunteers – those volunteers who may be young in years but wise in ideas, solutions, and energy. And while it makes sense for volunteer management professionals to work with young people as the next generation of volunteers, there are innumerable other reasons why it is important to engage youth. For example, if your organization serves young people, it lends credibility to your programs and activities if there is youth involvement (and not just in token ways but as partners in planning and service). Here are some resources on how to engage young people in meaningful ways: