New research from Stanford University and says that nearly one-third of adults over 50 (31 percent) have a significant, ongoing commitment to regular, active work toward goals that are meaningful to them and also aim to contribute to the wider world. That’s more than 34 million people over 50 dedicating themselves to making their corner of the world a better place.

I’m sure some of those 34 million people are already helping your organization reach its goals. Here are six reasons to consider recruiting more of them as staff and volunteers.

[1] More time. The baby boomers — born between 1946 and 1964 — number about 76 million people, or nearly one-quarter of the U.S. population. While the youngest of them (in their early 50s) may still be in the full-time workforce, older boomers are likely to have time to give. In fact,’s founder Marc Freedman calls older adults “the nation’s only growing natural resource.”

People 50+ who aren’t working a traditional full-time job may be more consistently available during the day than students or young professionals. (Be aware, though, that grandparents with caregiving responsibilities may have constraints after school and in the evening.)

People 50+ may also be more consistently available during certain times of the year — for example, during the summer or during college students’ winter/spring breaks. If your program serves children year-round, or envisions providing more weeks of service per year, this may be appealing to you.

[2] Bigger reach. You’ll be able to serve more children and youth in more neighborhoods. Recruiting a Community Corps of older adults alongside Jumpstart’s traditional College Corps for example, allowed the early literacy program to reach beyond the confines of the college campus to recruit corps members from the surrounding neighborhoods where children live.

[3] More experience. Your program and your team might benefit from specific skills that people have honed through several decades of paid or unpaid work. For example, a retired engineer might make a spectacular math tutor, after-school activity leader or mentor to a young person interested in a science career.

Megan McCarthy, operations director of the Generation to Generation Campaign at, reflects: “I remember talking to Habitat for Humanity, which has legions of young, corporate volunteers who bring corporate donations with them. But Habitat’s paid construction staff kept asking for more older volunteers, because they were reliable, committed to a schedule, returned build after build, and often had a hobby or professional skill in construction.”

People 50+ can also bring deep and diverse networks from their professional, volunteer, family and neighborhood experiences. These networks may help you recruit additional volunteers, advocate for a cause that affects your program, raise funds or secure donated items.

[4] Staying power. Megan’s reflection above also speaks to one aspect of staying power — reliability. This isn’t to say that younger people aren’t reliable — it’s less a function of age or generation and more attributable to a stage of life. Mid- to late- career adults, or those who have retired, can often keep a more predictable schedule than someone who’s juggling school and work — or who’s facing down a midterm deadline.

In addition, adults who are permanent community residents generally have stronger year-to-year retention than younger volunteers. For example, about 60 percent of the older adults in Jumpstart’s Los Angeles Community Corps have been around for two or three years; a handful have stayed four or more years. Retention of Jumpstart’s older volunteers from year to year is about twice as high as retention of its college-age volunteers.

A two-year pilot program in California, “Encore After School,” offers another example. During the 2006-2008 program, 76 percent of the encore-stage workers (aged 40+) stayed on for a second or third year — 16 percent higher than the standard retention rate of afterschool staff.

[5] Interest (and donations). Boomers and other older adults consistently express high interest in volunteer roles involving education or youth (right behind volunteering as part of a faith community). And volunteers are almost twice as likely as non-volunteers to donate to charity, so engaging more people in your cause can be good for your financial bottom line, too! See Volunteering and Civic Life in America.

[6] Skills for today’s (and tomorrow’s) workforce. How we live is becoming increasingly age-segregated. Olivia Gentile, an author of a report from Generations United and The Eisner Foundation, says: “At night, some of us go home to our children or our parents, but millions of college students and elders live in age-restricted housing, and about six in ten American neighborhoods skew young or old.”

At the same time that age divides (not to mention race and political perspectives) are getting wider, four and five generations co-exist in the modern workforce. The capacity to collaborate across generations is, therefore, a critical professional skill. Bringing together college-age adults just beginning their careers with professionals in midlife and beyond to serve children and youth could offer your organization a triple win.

Note: Once you’ve made the case for older volunteers, you may need some tips and tools to recruit them. Check out additional resources in Gen2Gen’s Learning Hub.