Purpose: Brookine-CAN is attempting to provide seniors with information about meaningful activities that can enrich their lives. Some research has shown that participation in volunteer activities can provide seniors with significant physical and emotional health benefits (The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research, Corporation for National and Community Service, 2007).
The purpose of this survey was to explore the volunteer experiences of Brookline-CAN members as well as their interest in learning more about volunteer opportunities that are available in Brookline and the surrounding area. It is hoped that these findings as well as information from interviews of non-profit organizations conducted this past summer will help Brookline-CAN decide whether to move ahead with the development of an internet-based volunteer clearinghouse.
Methods: An electronic survey, using Survey Monkey, was sent to the 213 Brookline-CAN members for whom there were email addresses. The survey was composed of 24 questions; most were structured questions and a few were open-ended questions. The survey was online for 18 days; it went online on 12/7/11 and was taken down on 12/25/11. Two email reminders were sent to the 213 Brookline-CAN members. One hundred and four members responded, yielding at 49 percent response rate.
- Three quarters of respondents volunteer for organizations; 35% help relatives, friends, or neighbors; and 26% volunteer for organizations as well as help relatives, friends, or neighbors.
- Slightly more than three-quarters (77%) volunteer for two or more organizations; 36% volunteer for two; 19% volunteer for three; and 22% volunteer for four or more.
- The major way that people learn about volunteer opportunities is through relatives/friends/neighbors/work colleagues (47%) or through word of mouth (39%). [not mutually exclusive categories]. 23% were recruited by an organization.
- 89% found the process of finding a volunteer activity easy or somewhat easy, so only 11% had some difficulties. Difficulties included not finding a good match between interests and skills and not knowing where or how to begin looking.
- The major types of volunteer activities that people engaged in included committee work (50%), working one-on-one with people or working in groups with people (49%). 39% reported engaging in organizational/administrative work.
- 58% were interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities in Brookline and the surrounding area. 53% of people who volunteered in organizations said this and 73% of people who were not volunteering in organizations said the same.
- When asked what types of organizations might be of interest, 51% said arts/cultural/historical organizations; 44% said organizations serving children and youth; 40% said human service/social service/ or family organizations; and 15% were uncertain.
- When asked what types of activities might be of interest, 60% said working one-on-one with people or working in groups with people. Other activities were mentioned by fewer than 30%.
- When asked what resources would be most helpful if they were looking for a volunteer activity, 57% said Brookline-CAN internet website or newsletter; 53% said relatives/ friends/ neighbors/work colleagues.
- In terms of the obstacles that might hold people back, 57% said a “tofull” personal schedule; 45% said lack of knowledge about available volunteer opportunities; and 32% said it was difficult tfind challenging and personally meaningful volunteer work.
- Among the 94 whanswered the question about residence, all lived in Brookline; most were seniors – 38% were 60-69 years old and 59% were 70 and over; 83% were women; 40% were employed full- or part-time and 51% were retired; over three-quarters (77%) held advanced educational degrees.