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Trends in Volunteerism Among Older Adults—Fact Sheet

compiled by Betty Cohen

January 2010—Estimates of the extent to which older adults currently participate in volunteer activities vary. One survey reports that about 30% adults aged 45-54 volunteered at least once in the preceding year, while another survey reports volunteer work by over 50% of adults over age 50.

Findings include:

  • Over 40% of older adults expect to increase the amount of time spent in volunteer work in the next five years.
  • Volunteer tasks vary by age group. For example, volunteering time to managerial or professional tasks tends to peak in the early retiree years (55 to 64).
  • Boomers are most likely to continue volunteering if the activity that they perform is professional or managerial (74.8% retention).
  • Women are somewhat more likely than men to say they expect to do volunteer work when they are older (83% of women vs. 77% of men).

Volunteers contribute their time to a wide range of secular and religious organizations, in such activities as mentoring, coaching, tutoring, office services, and management assistance. Older adults are more likely to continue to volunteer with organizations that offer opportunities to contribute managerial or professional skills, as well as flexible work schedules.

» Trends in Volunteerism Among Older Adults—Fact Sheet
Fact sources include: Bureau of Labor Statistics, AARP, and the Sloan Center on Aging & Work.

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