Many baby boomers imagine themselves being retired from a paying job and spending some of their free time as a volunteer. I am one of them. Finding a volunteer position suitable for a retiree may not be as easy as we think. Fortunately, there are organizations that can help.
The Retired Volunteer State of Mind
You need to ask yourself why are you volunteering. Without that self-knowledge, you may have problems finding a fit for your volunteer goals. There are a number of different volunteer motivations, including a desire to give back to the community, to improve your own life and health circumstances, to meet new friends and expand your social circle, or just to find new meaning to your life. All are worthwhile.
You need to find a volunteer job that you will you be good at it. Do you have the particular skills or experience needed for the position? Can you function inside that volunteer organization and structure? Do you have the right level of empathy for others? Honest answers are needed here or both you and the volunteer organization may be disappointed.
Can your commitment match the need? Be sure that the intensity (hours per week) and duration of the position is suitable for the time you are able to give. After all, you will be retired but that doesn’t mean that you want a full-time job as a volunteer.
Finding a Volunteer Position as a Retired Baby Boomer
To find a good volunteer opportunity, a good place to start is to ask your friends and colleagues in your community. Beyond that, there are a number of sites on the Internet that serve as clearing houses for volunteer opportunities. Here are some of them:
- The federal government sponsors and operates Serve.gov, which features a volunteer opportunity search engine.
- VolunteerMatch is a non-profit service that allows you to search for volunteer positions by location and keywords.
- idealist.org is a project of Action Without Borders, a nonprofit organization founded in 1995 with offices in the United States and Argentina. This is an interactive site where people and organizations can locate opportunities and supporters.
- Points of Light promotes its Hands On Network where you can search for volunteer opportunities, also by location and keyword.
- AmeriCorps is a federally sponsored volunteer organization with a variety of different community outreach programs. I have written more about federal volunteer and public service opportunities for boomers and retirees.
- AARP operates its Create the Good program, including a volunteer search engine for the 50+ crowd.
Good luck with your search. If you discover any other resources that would help a retired baby boomer find a volunteer position, please leave a comment.