Untapped Volunteer Pools: Where To Find Volunteers in a Dual-Income Society

Even as early as 1993, the rise of dual-income households was correlated with the decline of volunteerism in local school districts. The initial studies focused primarily on the lack of working-aged women volunteering due to increased employment rates and changes in parental roles. As volunteering continues to decline, more recent articles and studies are indicating the decline is attributed to financial stress in general. As a result, parents are less and less available to chaperone field trips or assist with school programs and activities.

School districts have heavily relied on volunteers to support the programs and activities intended to enrich the student’s education. However, with so many parents in the workforce, many school districts find it difficult to locate volunteers and with smaller operational budgets, enrichment programs are dwindling with the disappearance of volunteers.

However, there are several demographics and groups where you are more likely to find available volunteers. Of course, stay-at-home moms are one resource, but we are offering you a few more to explore.

  • sahm, military spouses, baby boomers, remote work, grandparents, volunteers

    Baby Boomers and Grandparents. Baby Boomers include those born between 1946 and 1965 and the first wave to reach retirement age (presumed to be 65) crossed the retirement line in 2011. There are an estimated 35 million people over the age of 65, as of 2004, and an estimated 79 million transitioning from their primary careers to family building roles. Accounting for approximately 114 million people,  Baby Boomers offer school districts a wonderful resource pool for finding volunteers.

    However, according to the Corporation of National and Community Service, the best way to attract Baby Boomers as volunteers is to appeal to their specific interests. In the same article, organizations seeking volunteers are encouraged to determine whether the Baby Boomer volunteers are looking for volunteer roles as an Activist, Consumer, or Worker and based on this interest, to tailor the volunteer experience to maximize participation and retention.

  • Military Service Members and Spouses. If you live within an hour or so of a military installation, you have a secret volunteer force right in your backyard. Active Duty, and even Reserve, Service Members often seek volunteer opportunities for promotion boards. For weekend volunteer activities, you can tap into this resource by calling the local Single Marines and Sailors Program or Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers. Additionally, did you know military spouses are frequently unemployed because employers are skeptical or resistant to hiring someone who may have to relocate in three to five years with their spouse? As a result, many military spouses find themselves without work making them a wonderful resource for volunteerism. The opportunity to volunteer is equally beneficial for the school and the volunteer. The school receives an eager volunteer while the volunteer receives valuable experience and the opportunity to network and make connections for letters of recommendation and future employment.

  • Remote Employees. On LinkedIn or Medium, you can find a multitude of blogs and articles citing remote work as the future of employment. Typically, this is attributed to the significant return on investment employers receive from remote workers. An often overlooked, but an added benefit for local school districts is the flexibility remote workers have. The added flexibility often means the remote worker can step away from work for an hour or two and volunteer for school activities or programs during the week, which are some of the most difficult activities for finding coverage.

While volunteers seem to be in short supply, it is also feasible volunteers are simply not aware of available opportunities. Creative marketing tactics can grab the attention of this untapped resource pools and encourage them to participate in local school activities and programs. 

1 Has Working More Caused Married Women to Volunteer Less? Evidence from Time Diary Data, 1965 to 1993, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0899764000294002

2 https://www.verifiedvolunteers.com/blog/2014/10/the-number-one-reason-volunteerism-is-on-the-decline/