Hosting intergenerational projects within your volunteer organization is essential to including the entire community. Often, it can be difficult for organizations to understand older volunteers. It is important to understand older adults and what issues they care about to ensure their participation in your project.
How can your organization better include older adults? Check out the list below to ensure a successful intergenerational project!
1. Define your ideal volunteer candidate: Let prospective volunteers know the necessary characteristics you are searching for to participate in the particular project.
- Make note of the necessary project goals, physical and time demands, and grant requirements.
2. Develop an organizational checklist: This checklist should cite the most critical information necessary to complete the actual project i.e. time commitment, age range, etc.
3. Identify the barriers that could keep older adults from volunteering such as:
- Lack of confidence that they have the skills to make a valuable contribution to the community.
- Physical limitations such as illness or fatigue
- Limited time to make a volunteer contribution
- Cultural myths that say old age is a time for relaxation and not a time for meaningful work.
4. Identify motivating factors:
- Discourage the barriers that keep older Americans from volunteering by encouraging the rewards such as friendships, new
purpose, chance to use developed skills again, etc.
5. Develop your recruitment message:
- What can your program sell to older Americans?
- Highlight the specific aspects of the program that will be exceptionally appealing to the older population.
6. Draft your recruitment materials:
- Draft a recruitment message that will be appealing to your targeted audience.
- Utilize pictures and stories that are positive and show the outcomes from the projects.
- Use color and testimonies, if possible.
- Get feedback from volunteer and leaders of the specific projects.
7. Use a wide variety of recruitment strategies:
- Recruiting volunteers is all about networking and building relationships. Spread the word about your project through coworkers, organizations you belong to, and community programs.
8. Recruit a big volunteer class:
- Plan to lose about 25% of volunteers that sign up for your project. Write this fact into your project guide to ensure that you can plan for this ahead of time.
- Have someone on staff is solely responsible for answering questions.
- Provide follow up and begin collecting an email list for volunteer newsletters and opportunities.
- Have informational materials ready to go for prospective volunteers.
- Answer all questions.
10. Gain dedicated volunteers:
- Ensure your volunteer return rate by conducting prescreening and matching volunteers with projects that match their skills and qualifications.
Does your organization recruit older volunteers, as well? We would love to hear your recruitment strategies in the comments section below!