How Volunteering is Helping Seniors and the Economy

  • Large Print
  • Print This

Recent research conducted for the Home Instead Senior Care® network details the varied benefits of volunteering. The truth is, volunteering benefits the economy as much as it does the individuals who give and receive.

The most recent data from the Corporation for National and Community Service indicates that one of four older Americans 55 and older—that’s 18.7 million people—makes a positive impact on their local communities through volunteering. Between 2008 and 2010, these adults contributed more than 3 billion hours of service per year in their communities. The economic benefit of their service to communities totaled more than $64 billion.

In a survey released in July 2009 by the Corporation for National and Community Service, one of every three organizations reported increasing its reliance on volunteers to cope with the economic downturn between September 2008 and March 2009.

The survey—Volunteers and the Economic Downturn—revealed that 80 percent of responding organizations experienced some level of fiscal stress between September 2008 and March 2009. Nearly 40 percent of those organizations said the stress was severe or very severe.

“If anything, the recession has pointed to the increased need for volunteer support,” said Dr. Erwin Tan, director of Senior Corps whose organization is part of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Three in five U.S. senior volunteers in the Home Instead Senior Care network survey say they are volunteering more now because the need is greater as result of the poor economy.

“As unemployment rates have escalated, and the economy weakened, there are more people in need,” noted Tan, who serves as the expert source for the Salute to Senior Service℠ program. “One might logically think that this means fewer people will be able to volunteer. We haven’t found this to be true.

“Even during a recession, people seem to inherently understand that there’s always someone in greater need than themselves. So, while they might give less money, they are still willing to give of their time,” he said.

“The biggest motivation for volunteering, particularly for seniors, is to make a difference. And it’s easier to make a difference when seniors know so many are in need, including their own neighbors. Research tells us that, even in good times, people of modest financial means often give more than people with greater wealth. This is especially true when they are already committed to a cause.”

Check out the resources that can help you donate time and resources to a worthy charity.