Connecting Generations for Good

Experienced Helping Hands: A New Handbook

Experienced Helping Hands: A New Handbook

October 31, 2017

Experienced Helping Hands

On October 31, 2017, The Eisner Foundation released a new handbook for nonprofits wanting to engage senior volunteers. The release coincided with a workshop in downtown Los Angeles.

As our society ages, the number of adults over 65 will double by 2050. Today, high proportions of seniors live alone and face social isolation, which is linked to a range of health issues. At the same time, one in five children live in poverty, and the education gap between rich and poor children continues to grow.

Older adults have a lifetime of experience and skills to share with these children. And as they engage in their communities, they report improvements in overall health. Collectively, increasing a child’s lifetime prospects and improving the well-being of seniors strengthen society.

In a survey of nonprofit organizations, we found that organizations with older volunteers retain them longer. Almost half of the organizations with high proportions of senior volunteers retained their volunteers 5 years or longer. Organizations with a staff member dedicated to coordinating volunteers also had the strongest retention rates. Finally, organizations that express appreciation regularly also keep volunteers longer: regularly assessing volunteer satisfaction, calling or writing thank-you notes, and holding volunteer appreciation events retained volunteers for 5 years or more at 71% of organizations.

With these stats in mind, we came up with nine key recommendations for organizations to engage more of these valuable volunteers. These recommendations are detailed in the handbook, available for free download here.  Want more inspiration? Explore the Grant Spotlights in our Eisner Journal.

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