Bad Rap for Boomers

by Mike Touzeau, Staff Writer

Statistics point to the fact that Baby Boomers volunteer less than their predecessors. The first of them are moving into their 70s now, and each succeeding group within that generation seems to follow the pattern. What accounts for it and what can be done about it?

Let me throw out some guesses with the admitted risk of overgeneralizing.

Boomers are a pretty unique demographic, known for questioning and battling injustice, inequality, and belief systems that were entrenched in society for decades. One could speculate, then, they should have automatically evolved into a more altruistic group than this trend seems to indicate. So, what’s up with you guys?

You could conceivably split Boomers into I’s and II’s, the first group tied more closely to the values and principles of parents from the “Greatest Generation,” and the other moving through their 50s and 60s now, operating a little bit differently.

Loyalty and trust are biggies for “Boomers I,” and so is suspicion. They stick a lot longer with brands and companies and jobs and people they like, and they hate getting ripped off. They like to think things out. They will embrace a cause if it’s legit and feels right, based on logic, facts, and maybe testimonials. They will carefully weigh the pros and cons and mull it over—no knee jerks—but you will probably get a more loyal and longer term volunteer that way.

“Boomers II” are typically a little bit more tech savvy, and likewise sensitive about what they’re getting into…just in a different way. They tend to demand a clear connection between what they are being asked to do and who it’s going to help. They are consumer driven with an “I don’t want to wait for it” attitude. Don’t dare tell them they’re old. They’re moving all the time. It’s much more difficult to convince someone like that to step off that kind of lifestyle moving train for a few hours a week and do something like volunteer. Even if you do catch their interest, it better be a good sell.

Self-worth and independence are Boomer II biggies. They hate people talking down to them, so finding a cause that challenges and fulfills and seems really important in their eyes is key to convincing them, although they are more likely to want to do a little of this and little of that. They have been dedicated shoppers, so they want to try everything on.

The Clearinghouse keeps it wide open and lets you look at all the volunteer opportunities out there. You can shop around, challenge us with questions, take a tour and see for yourself, and you’re encouraged to ask others why they like it. You’ll get a chance to think on it. The whole idea is to help you find the best match with the best potential for fulfillment and fun for you while you’re helping others.

Whether you’re a first or second wave Boomer, let us help you dump that bad rap and get out there experimenting with something new and doing your thing for society, just like you vowed you would way back then. Remember?