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~ February 2006 ~ Topics

View of the Future - Issues for Volunteerism: Part Three
"The Boomers Are Coming. The Boomers Are Coming"

View of the Future - Issues for Volunteerism: Part Three

The world's futurists are projecting some trends for the near future. Many of them have impacts on an organization's ability to recruit and retain volunteers. This is the last in a three part series where Volunteer Today shares more on the outlook seen by scientists who study future trends.

  • Security and Terrorism
    • Terrorist acts will increase in frequency and violence. Preparation to help volunteers know what to do in emergency situations is critical for even the most benign programs. Scientists suggest that the world is in for 20 years of continuing violence.
    • Privacy a thing of the past. Security will increasingly trump privacy to prevent violence and terrorism. In Britain 1.5 million cameras provide surveillance in pubic areas, schools, office buildings, streets and shops.
    • High tech "spyware" used by military forces worldwide is finding its way into local police forces. This will keep officers safer, but accountability and ethics of it use are likely to present challenges.
    • Vulnerability beyond the city. Future targets of terrorists may be in rural areas; infecting livestock with diseases, blowing up chlorine tanks, or bombing a sports venue.
  • Technology and Science
    • By 2025 90% of the world's lighting will come from LEDs. They last longer than regular bulbs and can cut the cost of lighting substantially.
    • Interactive TV at a reasonable price will make training of volunteers easier. A camera pointed at a viewer would take that image and superimpose it digitally into a video playing on television. Simulations are a terrific training tool.
    • Flexible film and the "roll-up TV." Thin electronic film will make roll up TV or computer monitors possible. Think of the opportunities to streamline training and on-going up-dates for volunteers.
    • Automobiles will become smarter, safer, and cleaner.
  • Values and Lifestyles
    • Moving away from team sports. The demise of the "standard" workweek means that fewer people have time off to participate in team sports. So clubs and member groups for sports are likely to decline.
    • Less control over our time. Time stress is being driven by several factors, elderly population with care needs, terrorism and security issues in public places slows movement, and transportation gridlock.
    • More control over our time. The increase in flexible working hours due to the need for 24-hour services and sophisticated technology will create a more flexible use of time.
    • Two – income household shows decline. In 1997, 53.4% of all household in the US found husband and wife employed outside the home. In 2003, it was 50.9%. It appears that husbands and wives are taking turns being in the work force.

From "The Futurist," December 2005

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Interested in more information? Check out our online bookstore for: Episodic Volunteering: Organizing and Managing the Short-Term Volunteer Program, by Nancy Macduff and The One Minute Answer to Volunteer Management Questions, by Mary Kay Hood.

Details for Episodic Volunteering Book Details for One Miinue Answer Book

"The Boomers Are Coming. The Boomers Are Coming"

Beginning January 1, 2006 - 7000+ individuals turned 60 every single day for the entire year in the United States. Staggering number! Is your volunteer program ready to recruit and place people whose needs might be different from the current group of volunteers filling those traditional spots? If not already retired, many boomers will soon retire. And they don't all want the same thing.

Here is a chart with four types of volunteer positions and what the volunteer might expect from service in that type of position.

Traditional Volunteers

  • Provide service for positions developed by the organization
  • Serve on a regular type of schedule; even if only annually
  • Service often given over a period of many years

Spontaneous Volunteers

  • An incident, event, activity occurs and people just show up to help out. (not just disasters)
  • The volunteers are sincerely interested in providing assistance, but not in a lengthy or extended application or training process.
  • Experienced volunteers, with special training can serve as supervisor and/or mentor to the spontaneous volunteer.
  • Gather only that information actually needed for liability reasons.

Vigilante Volunteers

  • This volunteer wants action NOW.
  • The volunteer sees a problem fraught with conflict and has a contribution to remedy what exists and fix things.
  • They will work hard to mobilize others of a like mind.
  • Keep recruiting, applications, and screening to a minimum, if at all.
  • Get them started and try not to tamp down the enthusiasm.
  • The project or program they come up with might eventually be mainstreamed as a traditional program.
  • The Sierra Club was radical in its early days, so were the volunteers of MADD.

Serendipity Volunteers

  • Volunteers want to help, often with others in a relaxed and informal manner.
  • Rules, procedures, and roadblocks will turn them off.
  • They are happiest designing their own jobs that allow freedom in time and type of service.
  • Often best with difficult clients where strict schedules are an unknown.

Boomers are not the only age cohort with interest in these four areas of volunteering. But, certainly the most obvious...if only because of their numbers. Review the different types of volunteers and think of the management strategies needed to attract and keep these volunteers. Use the worksheet provided.

Planning for Managing Boomers – The Four Types Worksheet

Directions: Write one type of volunteer position on the first line provided. Next, review what the office that manages the volunteer(s) needs to do to oversee the work of this type of individual. Do this for each process listed below to begin the process of parallel volunteer program management.

__________________ Volunteers:

  1. Application Process: ______________________________________
  2. Training Process: _________________________________________
  3. Supervision: ______________________________________________
  4. Evaluation/Recognition: ____________________________________

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The Points of Light Foundation has forms available to nominate volunteers and volunteer organizations for the Daily Points of Light Award. It is designed recognize individuals and groups that demonstrate unique and innovative approaches to community volunteering and citizen action, with a strong emphasis on service focused on the goals for children and young people set by the Presidents Summit for American's Future. The award is given five days a week, excluding holidays. If you would like nomination forms, call 202-729-8000.


By calling 1-800-VOLUNTEER in the U.S., individuals can be connected to their local volunteer center. This is a national interactive call routing system designed to get volunteers connected to people who can help them volunteer.

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