To read this content please select one of the options below:

Volunteering in older age: an organizational perspective

Andrea Principi (National Institute of Health and Science on Aging (INRCA), Ancona, Italy)
Robert Lindley (Institute for Employment Research, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK)
Jolanta Perek‐Bialas (Warsaw School of Economics, Warsaw, Poland and Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland)
Konrad Turek (Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Article publication date: 7 September 2012




The purpose of this paper is to shed light on organizational perceptions of the advantages and disadvantages of engaging older volunteers, and on how they might best capitalize on the availability of older volunteers in different countries and sectors.


The paper draws from 74 case studies of voluntary organizations carried out in eight European countries, conducted mainly between spring 2009 and autumn 2010. On‐site interviews adopting common guidelines were carried out with organizational representatives.


From the organizational perspectives, some disadvantages of engaging older volunteers are: difficulties matching older volunteers to tasks; problems relating to health and declining capacities; the need for special training efforts. Examples of perceived advantages are: considerable knowledge, skills, experience, reliability and strong commitment of older volunteers. In spite of the very different contexts, objectives and notions of “performance”, cost‐benefit assessments of older volunteers do not differ greatly from those generally held by employers about older employees. Countries differ considerably in the recognition of older volunteer potential.

Practical implications

Organizational policies and initiatives to capitalize on the availability of older volunteers are examined in the paper. Country and sector‐related reflections show how different and changing are the environments for volunteering. Policy makers need to recognise these when implementing active ageing policies. Voluntary organizations should raise their awareness of the need for innovation in volunteer management, especially relating to older people.


There has been much research about the experiences of older volunteers and how they benefit from the operations of civil society organizations. The perceptions of the organizations have, however, been neglected and these are explored in this paper.



Principi, A., Lindley, R., Perek‐Bialas, J. and Turek, K. (2012), "Volunteering in older age: an organizational perspective", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 33 No. 6, pp. 685-703.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles