Just because you're retired (or thinking about retirement) doesn't mean that you have to stop working. There are plenty of nonprofits, charities, and community organizations that need help—particularly from older adults.
"Seniors citizens make the best volunteers," says Caitlin Worm, the managing director of Blackbird Philanthropy Advisors, an organization that works with nonprofits. "They have tremendous expertise and capacity to give back through service, especially if they can use the skills that they used in their careers, like accounting, law, education, and more."
If you're thinking about becoming a volunteer, it helps to consider your passions first. Do you love education? The arts? How about sports? Next, think about your skill sets. Are you highly organized? Are you good at public speaking? "The best volunteer opportunity is going to be the one where you feel great about doing good work in an area that you love," Worm says.
That said, don't be afraid to choose an entirely new field, too. "Volunteering is a great way to gain new skills in areas you have interest in, but have never had the opportunity to pursue," Worm says. "A retiree who spent her career in corporate finance may have always dreamed of directing or writing a play — and by working with a local civic theater, she may have her shot as a volunteer director."
Plus, she says, volunteering is a great way to meet people and make new friends — something that's especially important for seniors. According to the National Institute of Aging, older adults who are active and engaged with others not only live longer than people who aren't very social, they're also less likely to develop health problems like dementia and depression.
Ready to jump in? Here are a few suggestions.
Talk with a licensed Aetna representative
Monday-Friday 8am to 6pm CT
If you love animals…
- And like to work independently: A Foster-Pet Parent
Become a foster parent for a pet at a local animal shelter; volunteers house the animals until they're placed in a permanent home.
- And like to stay active: An Animal-Shelter Dog Walker
Volunteer at a local animal shelter to walk the dogs around the neighborhood or play fetch with them in the yard.
If you love kids…
- And prefer to learn new things: Teen Book Club Leader
Head up a teen book club at your local library and choose a book or genre that you've never read before.
- And are creative: Art Project Leader
Organize an art project for kids; the proceeds could benefit a local homeless shelter.
If you like sports…
- And are social: Sports Event Committee Member
Put your tennis serve to good use and participate in an annual charity tournament. Or, if you'd rather be a spectator on the sidelines, volunteer to be a part of the event's committee.
- And work well with others: Youth Coach
Sign up to coach a local high school sports team or co-ed league at your local rec center. If you don't feel comfortable leading the charge, try volunteering under a more experienced coach instead.
- And are organized: Fantasy League Coordinator
Fantasy Football fan? Instead of pooling the money and divvying it up among the winners, organize a league and donate the proceeds to a local charity.
If you love education…
- And prefer learning about new things: Student
Take a course at your local library on an unfamiliar topic. Then, offer to help the teacher with the next session.
- And are social: Theatre Club Coordinator
Organize a theatre group with your friends: Once a month, you see a movie, then discuss the film afterwards over dinner or drinks.
- And are creative: Museum Docent
Work with your local history and art museum as a docent, giving tour guides or answering visitors' questions.
If you love to exercise…
- And are social: Group Fitness Leader
Who needs a gym? If you're passionate about yoga or Pilates, organize a fitness class (or even walking group) that meets in the park or a public rec center.
- And are organized: Public Rec Center Volunteer
Manage a group fitness schedule for your local public recreation center. You'll put your organizational skills to use by juggling the instructors' schedules and vacation days.
If you love the environment…
- And work well independently: Building Project Volunteer
Sign up to take part in a "GREEN" building project at an organization like Habitat for Humanity.
- And are social: Environmental Club Member
Want to spread the word about sustainability? Join an environmental organization or club that puts on educational events for the community.
- And enjoy staying active: Be a Plogger
"Plogging" is a fancy term for "picking up litter during your jog." The name is a mash-up of "jogging" and "plocka upp," which is Swedish for "picking up." It's good for the planet and your health.
If you're good with finances…
- And work well independently: Nonprofit Auditor
Volunteer to be an auditor for your favorite charity and review their financial documents once a month.
- And enjoy public speaking: Financial Educator
Offer to teach a class about budgeting or financial planning for non-profit executives.
Speak to a licensed Aetna representative about Medicare
Monday-Friday 8am to 6pm CT
1-833-942-1968 (TTY: 711)