According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 62.6 million people volunteered in the United States at least once in 2015 which was the last time such statistics were published. Of those volunteers, most were between 35 – 54 years of age and they spent a median of 52 hours on volunteer activities.
We know that planning is important when it comes to unretirement. There seems to be a never-ending number of decisions to be made and, possibly, changed along the way. We’ve written extensively about the importance of getting these decisions right to keep your retirement years sustainable and enjoyable.
But an encore career is just a part of your retirement life. It’s essential to find other ways to fill your retirement days.
Volunteering may be a great way to match your interests and skills with great opportunities to help and give back. In fact, AARP is so supportive of volunteering, that they have created a portal specifically for volunteers. Their Volunteer Wizard can guide you to the perfect experience for your interest and skills. They can even narrow it down to within 10 miles of where you live.
If you are like me and a global pandemic cramps your travel, never fear. There are many volunteer opportunities to be had that only require a phone or computer. Online tutors are in huge demand right now. If you are more of an environmental activist, many organizations are looking for volunteers to support causes like save the bees and stop overfishing oceans. Citizen scientists can volunteer for eBird through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to record local bird sightings.
Let’s not forget that this is an election year and parties, candidates and causes are all looking for volunteer help. Highly organized campaigns have lists of voters who actually want to receive text messages. Or you can work to help register voters before the general election. If you can safely get to and volunteer at your local voting site, many are desperate for help in the weeks ahead.
Simplification may be the key for many who have a very active retirement life. But don’t let that stop you from giving back. I’m talking about shopping and giving a portion of what you spend to charitable causes. Sites like AmazonSmile offer the same products you buy at the same prices, but they donate a percentage of the proceeds to the charity of your choice. It’s simple and automated – all you have to do is select a charity and start shopping!
Right now may be the best time to do some research to find that volunteer opportunity. Many of us are still cutting back on activities and travel due to COVID-19. Use your spare time to find something that matches your interests and skills. And if volunteering is still a few months or years away, no problem. You can do the groundwork now to find what’s best for you.
We know that, for many, workplace unrest, furloughs and layoffs have upended retirement planning. Volunteering may not be an option when your focus is on an interim job or your next opportunity. However, a volunteer role may provide experience, new skills, or connections that could lead to a new job. Something to keep in mind. For others, volunteering can be a rewarding way to support others and the causes that really matter.