senior volunteers

Research Friday: Arizona’s seniors: The latest profile of volunteering behavior

posted by
 Carlton Yoshioka, Ph.D.,
Professor and Director
of Academic Programs
ASU Lodestar Center

Welcome to Research Friday! As part of a continuing series, we invite a nonprofit scholar, student, or professional to highlight current research reports or studies and discuss how they can inform and improve day-to-day nonprofit practice.

Recent research findings by Christopher Einolf and Susan Chambre (2011) provided empirical evidence of the strong influence of both formal and informal social networks on volunteering. They found that individuals actively involved in activities with social organizations were more likely to volunteer. Previously, the positive impact of religious congregations and social networks on volunteering was found by Park and Smith (2000). This strong relationship was also evident for informal social networks where friend and neighbor interactions significantly increased the likelihood of volunteering (Bekkers, 2005; Okun, Pugliese, Rook, 2007). What about volunteers in Arizona and particularly senior volunteers? Are Arizona seniors influenced by both formal and informal social networks to volunteer? Do socioeconomic characteristics, health, and social isolation of an aging individual limit the likelihood of volunteering?

These challenging questions were addressed by the 2010 Arizona Health Survey sponsored by the St. Luke’s Health Initiative. Over 8,000 adults were surveyed about their physical, mental and social well-being. Fortunately, over 2,000 adults over 65 years old responded to the survey. Dr. Lili Wang and I analyzed the sample of seniors to determine the impact of social context on senior volunteers in Arizona. The average age of the sample was 75 years old and 64.5% of the sample was female. 24% of households had an annual income between $30,000 and $49,999. About one fourth of the seniors (24%) had a high school diploma or equivalent, followed by a four-year college degree (15%). Most of the seniors (86%) did not work. Close to half of the respondents were married (48%) and only a fraction of them (2.4%) had grandchild under 18 living in house.

The results of this survey support the positive influence of social context on Arizona’s senior volunteers. The findings show that seniors are more likely to volunteer when they have more friends to rely on spend time with others more often, help friends and neighbors, and participate in social clubs or religious and other organizations. In terms of socioeconomic status, the results show that higher levels of education and self reported positive health significantly increased seniors’ chance of formal volunteering; however, age, gender, income level, employment status, and having children had no effect.

Research Friday: Senior Volunteering: Burden or Benefit?

 

posted by
Kelly Proulx,
MNpS Student &
Research Technician,
Arizona State University


Welcome to Research Friday! As part of a continuing weekly series, each Friday we invite a nonprofit expert to highlight a research report or study and discuss how it can inform and improve day-to-day nonprofit practice. We welcome your comments and feedback.

Nonprofit organizations are often dependent on volunteers, and among adults 65 and older volunteering rates have increased from 14.3% in 1974 to 23.5% in 2005. Some of this increase can be attributed to earlier retirement, leading senior citizens to be more active.1 For nonprofits, understanding the dynamics of senior volunteerism can help organizations utilize seniors in a way that furthers their mission while offering a positive volunteering experience.

Several challenges can be unique to senior volunteers. First, some volunteers may have physical limitations such as health, sight, or hearing problems. Some seniors may be unfamiliar with or resistant to newer technology. An additional problem can occur with volunteers who “age in place,” which means they joined the organization at a younger age and have lost some abilities. When the organization feels loyal to the volunteer it can be difficult to confront this issue.2 All of these concerns should be taken into account.

Research Friday: Senior Arizona volunteers -- how do they stack up against the rest of the nation?

posted by
Carlton Yoshioka, Ph.D.,
Professor and Director
of Academic Programs
ASU Lodestar Center

Welcome to Research Friday! As part of a continuing weekly series, each Friday we invite a nonprofit expert from our academic faculty to highlight a research report or study and discuss how it can inform and improve day-to-day nonprofit practice. We welcome your comments and feedback.

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Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes, and we in the nonprofit sector are thankful for their involvement any time we can get it. But how do we target our recruiting efforts? Which groups of volunteers are the most active? How do we best utilize different types of volunteers? Complex questions, no doubt. Seniors, in particular, are an especially important age demographic to learn more about. What can we expect from senior volunteers in the coming years?