SUNY Retiree Volunteers: A Priceless Resource for SUNY Campuses and Local Communities
An analysis of the 2012 “Survey on SUNY Retirees Volunteer Activity,” designed to capture volunteerism on their campuses and in local communities and seek suggestions to enhance such participation in community services. Motivating factors and methods to promote greater SUNY retiree involvement are discussed. Retirees are a valuable resource worthy of potential utilization for the greater good. More
SUNY retirees matter. That is the premise of this study. It is based on responses to the Survey on SUNY Retirees Volunteer Activity, conducted in 2010. The survey was designed to determine a demographic profile of retirees; the nature of retiree involvement in voluntary service; their motivations; their contributions through volunteerism; steps to enhance their involvement; and recommendations to make retirement more fulfilling. The Survey consisted of 23 questions. It was distributed electronically to over 2,000 SUNY retirees in July 2010. The response rate was about 30%.
The report is in seven chapters. Chapter I gives the background and survey design; Chap. II gives respondents’ demographic profile; Chap. III contains analysis of the findings; Chap. IV contains impact of their voluntary contributions; Chap. V presents suggestions and comments; Chap. VI gives respondents’ recommendations; and Chap. VII proposes an action plan for campuses to strengthen the retiree-campus- community connection.
Key survey findings:
• Campuses with active retiree organizations had the highest percentage of survey responses and involvement
• All job classifications were represented in the survey, but most retiree respondents (58%) were former faculty.
• 75% of the respondents continued to live within the community of their campus
• 82% of the respondents had engaged in voluntary service since retiring. Nearly 5% volunteered solely on their campus, 56% in the local community only, and 39% volunteered on campus and in the community
• The respondents assisted with special events more than any other on-campus volunteer activity (41%). Serving on campus committees and task forces was a close second (31%)
• The respondents were involved in faith-based services more than any other type of community volunteerism (40% of total)
• Involvement in volunteer activities increased with age. Retirees over 80 volunteered more than any other age group of retirees, with a volunteerism rate of 85%
• The respondents listed about 400 specific voluntary services they were involved in on-campus and in the community
• 50% of the respondents indicated devoting more than 10 hrs. a month to volunteerism, 10% spent over 30 hours a month; hours volunteered ranged from 35 to 150 hours per month
• They learned about volunteer opportunities through friends and colleagues more than any other source (70%). Learning about opportunities from their former campuses came in fifth
• Top three reasons for volunteering: To give back; To make a difference; To share their experience and skills
• Top three reasons for not volunteering: Too busy; Lack of information about volunteer
opportunities; Caretaking of family members
• 26% of retirees not involved in volunteer service indicated that they would be willing to volunteer if someone from a campus or an organization contacted them; 54% of them stated they would consider volunteering if approached with a specific opportunity; 20% indicated that they would not be willing to volunteer even if contacted
• A handful of respondents indicated not being treated well by their former campus at the time of or since their retirement
• Retirees offered about 180 recommendations for improving the retirement experience for future SUNY retirees and to encourage their participation in voluntary services. The most recommended categories were: Keep retirees connected with their campuses and each other; and Recognize and respect retirees for their contributions
• Respondents recommended developing a system to match them with volunteer opportunities as the best way to promote volunteerism among SUNY retirees
Based on respondent recommendations, the report presents an action plan to promote retirees’ involvement in volunteerism. Retirees constitute a rich resource. They are highly educated, talented, and experienced. SUNY campuses should consider devising programs to utilize this largely untapped resource for the greater good. By doing so, everyone wins.