Having spent a morning with a group of “seniors” (their word not mine) talking about ways they can help charities other than giving money on an ad-hoc basis, I got to thinking about how organisations tap into what could be a very valuable source of support.

The group I met was made up of people who have supported various causes for a number of years, but who now felt they could do a lot more than they were doing financially. After a quick round the room chat about causes these people support, or would like to support, it became very clear that although in their later years these people still have a lot of “giving” in them.

We talked about things they are passionate about, skills they may have that could be offered to organisations:

Retired accountants  – these people could offer some advice to a charity’s board on accounting issues.

Retired lawyers  – what organisation doesn’t need legal advice.

Sales people  – maybe these could offer advice in communicating with donors.

Tailors / Seamstresses – restyling of donated clothes.

Although these people have skills that you would think would be welcomed by any charity, the issue was – how do we let charities know we are here and willing to help.

A couple of the people in the room talked about how they’d contacted organisations they had been long standing supporters of offering further assistance, but they had got the impression they weren’t needed. They spoke of how willing they were to roll up their sleeve and help – but all the organisations kept mentioning was their age and how important their financial contributions are. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with letting people know their money is needed, but to suggest to people that their other skills weren’t needed – to me is hogwash.

I’m sure there are valuable ways people like this group can help, and I’m determined to find a way to get them involved.

Don’t write people off because of their age, age is only a number, the skills these and many others have are useful – we need to find ways to help people help us.

Does your organisation offer people of an older generation the opportunity to volunteer, to act as advisors based on their experience?

One thought on “No room at the inn (for seniors)

  1. The trick is surely to organise the senior volunteeers into a team that can sell itself as an indispensable group to the charitable organisation. I am on oldie and fundraise for a Charity. Would be delighted to have others to join in and do some of the the grunt work of fundraising applications, help finding other sources of funding and sussing the donor criteria. I need to raise quite a lot and it is hard to do it alone.I know a regenerating bush that benefits from volunteer help from Forest and Bird on a weekly basis and the group gathers every Wednesday to help with mulching new plantings, weeding and whatever needs doing. So we need a meeting point that provides a forum to say what there is out there and see if it interests the skilled oldie. Perhaps the first thing that could happen is a group formed to create a blog/website to link up the donors of time and the projects that need them

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