Thinking about volunteering?
Many boomers are already stepping up to the plate. They are interested in leaving behind a social legacy, still feeling the encouragement of John F. Kennedy, who called their generation to service.
Adults in this group are actively setting aside time and money to support their favorite causes - and at about the same rates as their elders. That penchant for social responsibility flows into consumerism, too, with many patronizing companies that give back to communities.
About 18 million boomers have volunteered in the last year alone, according to a survey by Focalyst, a boomer research company. After retirement, about 20 percent of the 58 million employed boomers plan to help their community at least on a part-time basis.
Boomers aren't shy about opening their wallets, either, making cash contributions of nearly $100 billion in 2006. That amounted to an average $6,000 for every boomer.
|Why Boomers Give Back|
|I am willing to volunteer time for a good cause||78%|
|I have the responsibility to make the world a better place||70%|
|I try to buy from companies that give back to their communities||57%|
|I buy brands that are environmentally safe||54%|
|Volunteered time to a charitable organization in the last year||24%|
|Want to devote time/money to charity as a goal/ambition in life||21%|
Not Waiting Until Retirement
As part of profiling boomer volunteers, Focalyst learned that personal values play an important part in a boomers' decision to volunteer. Those that give back are more likely to be: motivated by concern for others and focused on the "bigger picture," with an understanding that time is more important than money.
Boomers represent an attractive volunteer pool to charitable organizations. The thinking is that as boomers, the oldest of whom is 62, begin to retire and have more free time, this percentage of willing volunteers will only increase.
Currently, Focalyst is starting to see that many boomer volunteers aren't waiting until retirement to donate their time. Some working adults are even mixing volunteer opportunities into their vacations through "voluntourism."
So with many adults working past traditional retirement age, it won't be uncommon to see boomers working and volunteering well into their 60s.
Still, many factors can influence how and when boomers give their time. And nailing down the right opportunity is remains a challenge for some.
Gender & Income
Overall, women are more likely to volunteer than men, according to Focalyst. About 10 million women volunteered last year, compared to 8 million men. In general, female volunteers are likely to be homemakers, many with children still living at home, which presents them with opportunities through school, sports teams and community fundraisers.
A boomers' financial resources also plays a big part in contribution levels, whether it's time or money. Simply put, those with higher incomes are more likely to volunteer. Boomers with lower household incomes, meanwhile, have similar attitudes about "their greater responsibility," but with the added stress of making ends meet, volunteering is not something they generally can make time for, Focalyst found.
Concern for a communities' well-being also can affects boomers' shopping habits. More than 42 million boomers try to give back by buying from companies that support local communities. Boomers that volunteer also are more likely to choose locally produced goods, and tend to be more savvy shoppers than non-volunteers since they are more prone to research products, shop for better quality and buy organic.
In addition, boomers tend to be concerned about the environmental impacts of products, with about half choosing to buy brands that are environmentally safe.