Americans ages 50-plus have historically been a large part of the nation's volunteer corps and, as the song goes, you ain't seen nuthin' yet. Baby boomers and older Americans are increasingly postponing retirement to start public-service-oriented careers. Tens of millions of boomers are also volunteering through their churches or via programs like Meals on Wheels and AARP Tax Aide, which provides free tax preparation and other assistance to millions of low- and middle-income taxpayers, with special attention to those 60 and older.
According to More to Give, a new report from AARP and Civic Enterprises, about 45 million older Americans plan to increase their volunteering in the next five years. Here are some ways they can do so:
Get a retirement job. Most boomers plan to hold a paying job after retirement, and many cite money as a barrier to volunteerism. Recareering into service-oriented jobs can allow them to do good while also doing well. While some jobs paying $8 to $25 an hour may require specific training at nonprofits like the Red Cross, others may not require a formal education.
Join the classroom corps. Civic Ventures' Experience Corps program puts 2,000 older Americans to work as tutors, mentors and class assistants in schools in 23 cities across the country. The program has helped improve student and school performance. California's EnCorps Teachers Program enables eligible retiring boomers to enter the classroom as math and science teachers.
The toughest job you'll ever love (reprise). As it did almost 50 years ago, the Peace Corps is actively recruiting boomers to serve overseas. Five percent of current Peace Corps volunteers are ages 50-plus, and the agency is hoping to recruit more boomers who want to see a new part of the world and leave it in better shape than they found it.
Fifty-plus volunteers have tremendous potential to help solve daunting problems. It's never too early or too late to start.
Nelson is the chief operating officer for AARP