From Boomers to Millennials: Generation Specific Volunteer Recruitment, Retention, and Recognition Strategies


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This presentation, originally given 1/27/12 for the Indiana Special Olympics State Conference, details generational characteristics of volunteers, as well as generation specific recruitment, retention, and recognition ideas.

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From Boomers to Millennials: Generation Specific Volunteer Recruitment, Retention, and Recognition Strategies

  1. 1. From Boomers to Millennials: Generation Specific Volunteer Recruitment, Retention, and Recognition Strategies Sarah Bradbury, MPA [email_address]
  2. 2. Volunteering in Indiana <ul><li>1.4 million volunteers </li></ul><ul><li>28.4% of residents volunteer </li></ul><ul><li>181.6 million hours of service </li></ul><ul><li>Nationally, episodic volunteering has increased. </li></ul><ul><li>Volunteers are likely to be as busy as non-volunteers </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Who are these volunteers? </li></ul><ul><li>Why does their generation matter? </li></ul><ul><li>How can you recruit and manage </li></ul><ul><li>them effectively? </li></ul>Objectives
  4. 4. Volunteer Life Cycle <ul><li> </li></ul>Teen Years Early 20s Mid-to Late 20s Middle Age Older adults
  5. 5. Boomers (1946-1964) Largest population in U.S. history- 1 in 4 Americans is a Boomer! Raising one or more young children and/or providing primary financial support to one or more adult children. Strong work ethic and loyalty to career- many plan to work past typical age of retirement Goal oriented Like to meet in person Motivated by feeling valued, appreciated for their contributions Not necessarily technology-averse “ I believe this generation is going to radically redo aging.” From Richard Croker’s The Boomer Century, 1946-2046: How America’s Most Influential Generation Changed Everything
  6. 6. Generation X (1965-1980) “ Once stereotyped as skeptical and disengaged, Generation X is showing signs of optimism that they can make a difference in their communities through service as they become more connected to local networks through their careers and their children.” Children of Boomers; Millennials are their children or younger siblings Skepticism & caution Connected to community (home ownership, steady employment, children) Value independence and flexibility (shy away from long, traditional work hours of their Boomer parents) Motivated by ability to “do it their way”
  7. 7. Millennials (1980-?) Children of Boomers or Gen Xers; sometimes have a Gen X sibling Use of technology makes their generation distinct (info is a click away!) -on course to become the most educated generation in American history -more diverse and accepting/tolerant Enjoy multi-tasking Motivated by the opportunity to meet others & work on a team “… Boomers have given them the confidence to be optimistic about their ability to make things happen, and Xers have given them just enough skepticism to be cautious…If you want to remember just one key word to describe Millennials, it’s realistic.” — Lynne C. Lancaster and David Stillman from “ When Generations Collide.”
  8. 8. Volunteering & Generations Motivations Most popular cause % who volunteer Meeting others, working together on a team Workplace or connection (through child’s activities) Self-development, use of professional skills, leadership Education & youth Education & youth Religious institutions 21.2% 29.2% 28.8% Millennial Generation X Baby Boomers
  9. 9. Recruitment Boomers: skills based job descriptions, positions of leadership, visit religious institutions Generation X: offer family or corporate opportunities, flexible scheduling, independent opportunities Millennials: offer team positions, online tools, especially social media
  10. 10. Recognition <ul><li>Boomers: recognize their expertise, leadership, hard work, or commitment </li></ul><ul><li>Generation X: recognize their creativity or independent contributions </li></ul><ul><li>Millennials: recognize their collaborative efforts, being a team player </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>Boomers: the more hours they volunteer, the more likely they are to come back. Re-imagine their roles! </li></ul><ul><li>Generation X: provide family volunteer opportunities; ask for their input on creativity/change processes </li></ul><ul><li>Millennials: regular communication, especially through the use of varied channels </li></ul>Retention
  12. 12. General Tips <ul><li>Recognize generational characteristics, but avoid stereotypes. </li></ul><ul><li>Offer well-written, skills based job descriptions. Place volunteers on knowledge, skills, and abilities </li></ul><ul><li>Be flexible in management styles and communication channels </li></ul>
  13. 13. Resources <ul><li>http:// / </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>