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The Older Volunteer Resource darold A. Kieffer The terms older person, volunteer; and volunteer work have acquired many different meanings in our society, a fact that causes confusion in discussing and interpreting data about the older volunteer. For instance, the 1981 Gallup survey on volun- teerism in America used the "50 and older" category in identify- ing the age composition of the nation's volunteers.) In the same year the Louis Harris survey on aging focused on people over age 65 in asking its questions on volunteer activities. Other studies and documents discuss volunteer activity among people in the group aged 55 and over.2 Both in common usage and in studies of volunteerism the notion of volunteer work ranges from the unstructured help a person gives a bedridden neighbor to highly organized programs in which thousands of older people provide tax assistance to other older people on a volunteer basis. Some volunteer programs regard a volunteer only as someone who provides services with- out any type of monetary return even one so small as the reim- bursement of a bus trip or a meal. In other volunteer programs, reimbursements for out-of-pocket expenses are either a regular or a much-desired feature as an inducement in volunteer recruit- ment or retention. Jarold A. Kieffer is a policy and management consultant. 51

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52 JAR OLD A. KIEFFER In this paper, simply for the purpose of focusing discussion, the following will apply: 1. The terms older people, or older person, and older volunteer refer to people aged 55 and older. 2. Volunteer work is defined as full- or part-time employment with an organization (rather than on an individual, informal basis) for which no salaries, wages, or honoraria are received or expected, and for which no retirement, health insurance, or vaca- tion or sick leave benefits are earned or granted. Also, the work done is not subject to the Social Security or Workers' Compensa- tion tax and benefit systems. However, small stipends or reim- bursements may be given for meals, travel, or other out-of-pocket expenses incurred in connection with the work done. 3. Service as a volunteer need not have a special linkage with certain types or classes of work. The term volunteer work is applied to any work activity that (a) could and might well be done for compensation but for some reason, at any given time, is not, or (b) is performed but probably would not be if, at a given time, the worker had to be paid. People who have paid jobs may do volunteer work in their spare time or on a released time basis, the latter on the basis of an agreement with their employers. 4. The possibilities for expanding the role of older volunteers are examined from the standpoint of public policy, employers, unions, paid workers, and older people. Many questions and issues that have been raised in connection with the possible expanded use of older volunteers are really part of the larger issue of the expanded use of volunteers of all ages in our society. However, some special questions and issues do attach to the expanded use of older volunteers, and that (rather than the gen- eral subject of volunteerism) is the focus of this paper. THE NEED AND THE OPPORTUNITY At all levels of American life, social service and many other types of program managers are finding that their financial resources are shrinking while their workloads continue to grow. Federal grants-in-aid for many services performed in our commu- nities have been declining because of reductions in appropria- tions or inflation or both. Budget problems and inflation also are

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THE OLDER VOLUNTEER RESOURCE 53 forcing many states and localities to reduce the funds they can provide for such programs, and business difficulties and tax changes are limiting the funds that businesses pay in taxes or contribute to private and voluntary organizations that furnish services. Some foundation-assisted programs also have had to be curtailed because of smaller amounts of money available for phi- lanthropy. Personnel costs tend to be the most expensive category in the budgets of service organizations. Consequently, budget-cutting efforts are forcing personnel reductions that result either in whole ranges of service being eliminated or in services being maintained but on a reduced or Tower quality basis. No doubt such service reductions will have long-term consequences that will prove costly in human and dollar terms, but these costs tend to be hard to calculate. Therefore, their overall scope is rarely identified and reflected in public and private sector budgets. Instead, society pays the costs in year-by-year increments through its often belated efforts to cope with underemployment, unemployment, fear, insecurity, crime, isolation, poor health, dependency, community decay, lost business profits, and Tower property values. The growing numbers of able older people could be a major resource in easing the impact of personnel cuts that lead to reduc- tions in social service and other types of service agencies. Already numbering about 50 million, the older population is expected to grow to more- than 53 million by the end of this decade and to nearly 60 million by the end of the century. Of the current older population (figures as of 1984), over 68 percent of those between ages 55 and 64 and SS percent of those over age 65 are no longer counted in the work force (in 1970, the correspond- ing figures were 61 percent and 83 percent). Some of these people, mostly women, were in the work force only for short periods; others have retired or are classified as discouraged workers who are no longer counted as currently seeking work. The 1981 Louis Harris study estimated that about 5.9 million, or 23 percent, of the population over age 65 "performed some voluntary service." The 1981 Gallup survey of the same age group stated that its calculations showed that 9.6 million, or 37 percent, claimed that they did volunteer work. The Gallup fig- ures, however, included both organized, formal volunteer activity

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54 HAROLD A. KIEFFER and informal, individual activity.3 Edmund Worthy summarized the 1981 Harris survey data on the volunteer activity of people over age 65: three-fifths are women, two-fifths are men; 92 percent are white, 6 percent are black, and 2 percent are Hispanic; 43 percent are aged 65 to 69, 46 percent are aged 70 to 79, and 11 percent are aged 80 or older; almost 33 percent are college graduates, slightly more than a third finished high school and had some college work, and about a third did not graduate from high school; 25 percent had incomes over $20,000, 25 percent had incomes between $10,000 and $20,000, 25 percent had incomes between $5,000 and $10,000, and 25 percent had incomes under $5,000; and volunteerism among people over age 65 who are still in the work force appears to be declining, although it is increasing among people over age 65 who have retired.4 THE CURRENT AND POTENTIAL OLDER VOLUNTEER POOL The 1981 Harris survey also sought to learn whether older nonvolunteers had an interest in volunteering. The response indicated that 1 in 10 had such an interest (about 2.55 million people in the population over age 65 in 19811. Worthy noted that this 2.55 million added to the 5.9 million people in the same age group who said they were now doing volunteer work might mean that about 8.5 million people over age 65 could be considered to be the current and potential volunteer pool in that age category. Turning to volunteerism among the people in the group aged 55 to 64, the 1981 Gallup survey found that 45 percent (or 9.S million) of the people in this age group said that they did volun- teer work; the Hamilton survey figure was 31 percent (or 6.7 million). Given the very liberal definition of volunteer work used by Gallup, the Hamilton figure might be the safer one to use. Gallup did not present figures on nonvolunteers aged 55 to 64 who said that they were interested in volunteering. But Hamil

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THE OLDER VOLUNTEER RESOURCE 55 ton found that 26 percent of the 15 million nonvolunteers aged 55 to 64 (or 3.9 million) said that they would be interested. These estimates suggest that the current and potential pool of volunteers drawn from people 55 years and older is as follows: Persons Now Persons Interested Volunteering in Volunteering lUtalsa Age Group (millions) (millions) (millions) 55 to 64 6.7 3.90 10.60 65 and older 5.9 2.55 8.45 Ibtals 12.6 6.45 19.05 aThese are 1981 estimates. By 1990, the pool could include several million more older people. No ready basis exists for judging either the number of addi- tional older volunteers needed or the number who actually would respond to an expanded call for their help on a voluntary basis. We do know from the Harris survey that many older people fee} involuntarily idled through forced and premature retirement; indeed, many do not fee} fully occupied even though they are still working. Others retired voluntarily but came later to realize that they did not have a sense of clear purpose to keep them active and motivated day by day. Older women form a group of varying abilities and changing patterns of volunteerism. Some older women who have not sought to rejoin the work force are past the point of having daily concerns with growing children and household responsibilities. In terms of volunteering, many of these women have skills and experience that could be used at once in a wide variety of social service organizations; others would need training or skill updat- ing; and still others would need extensive training and counsel- ing or could be used only in low-skill capacities. Older women traditionally have been a major source of volunteers. But, in the past 15 years, changes in the family status of many women, inflation, and new views on women's roles have sharply reduced the pool of women aged 45 to 65 who are still willing to give time to volunteer work. Some organizations that depend upon female volunteers have had losses of between 25 and 40 percent over the last five years. Retired or near retired men and women could be a natural group to help make up these losses.

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56 JAR OLD A. KIEFFER IMPEDIMENTS TO THE OLDER VOLUNTEER The table presented earlier indicates that nearly 6.5 million people aged 55 and older might be interested in doing volunteer work. But even if we are conservative in judging what people actually will do as against what they say they might do and reduce the figure to, say, 4 million, it is still difficult to predict whether volunteers in anything like these numbers will come forward. Without a clearer understanding of what makes people volunteer, we are left with "It all depends . . ." There is a need for many more older volunteers, and older persons have the availability and capacity to meet this need; these points are clear. Yet why are these people still so generally neglected? Are the problems or impediments to volunteering mostly in the minds of older individuals, or are they in the habits of thinking and action of the people in the organizations that might seek their help? As might be expected, both older people themselves and the organizations for which they might volunteer have contributed to the current situation. Indeed, although the idea and value of expanding the number of older volunteers may seem to be self-evident, an expansion initiative has not as yet attracted important leadership, in either the public or private sectors. Some of the elements of this situation are described next. President Ronald Reagan (and earlier Presidents) and many private sector leaders have encouraged greater voluntary efforts in our society. But they have tended to say very little to encour- age and challenge large numbers of older people to volunteer. Also and this is of critical importance they have not identified and taken actions to clear away obstacles to older volunteer recruitment and retention. Although the 1981 White House Con- ference on Aging and a number of national advisory groups in the past several years have urged greater attention to the older person as a continuing resource, little response has developed, in either the public or private sectors, to expanding recruitment and retention of older people as volunteers. The Reagan adminis- tration also has not increased the size of several small, older- volunteer programs that it inherited. And Congress has not moved in this area or in attempting to provide more incentives to volunteer. Federal and some state tax codes allow limited expense deductions for people who volunteer, but these deduc- tions tend to help people who have high enough incomes to bene

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THE OLDER VOLUNTEER RESOURCE 57 fit from deductions. Large numbers of older people are not in this category. In fact, our society has been systematically writing off the skills, capacities, and experience of older people since the end of World War Il. It is not surprising, therefore, that no sudden exception is made now to proclaim the valuable contributions older people can make as volunteers. Another facet of the problem involves the unions. Labor unions commonly are suspicious and fearful about the use of volunteers of any age in many categories of paid employment. Government workers' unions, in particular, believe that volunteerism could be exploited by public agencies to displace paid workers. Their con- cerns have been heightened by high rates of joblessness and extensive layoffs at the same time that the President has been calling for a broader emphasis on volunteerism. (Some governors and mayors also have been talking about the broader use of vol- unteers to help offset staff cuts forced by budget reductions.) Because of these fears on the part of workers, many public employers who otherwise might be supportive of the broader use of volunteers (of all ages) tend to hesitate about moving in this direction. They are reluctant to antagonize the public worker and other unions and the families and friends of union members. Like older people who work for pay or seek paying jobs, older persons actually serving as volunteers-or looking for such assign- ments face many of the same kinds of age discrimination and discouragement policies and practices in the workplace. Such policies and practices are often found in organizations that com- monly employ volunteers. Another impediment to a greater use of older persons as volun- teers may be that older people themselves are divided on the subject of their volunteerism. Some are dubious about accepting what they perceive to be the second class status they fee] often attaches to volunteer work. Others who fee] that more opportuni- ties should be provided for older people to work for pay reason this way: If volunteerism gets a higher priority among policyma- kers, then policymakers will tend to give less attention to expanding paid work opportunities. The Gallup, Harris, and Hamilton surveys show clearly that people who have low incomes tend to volunteer less than people who have more income. One of the difficulties may be that volun- teers often need money for transportation and meals. Although

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58 JAR OLD A. KIEFFER some organizations reimburse volunteers for such costs, many are not able to do so. And the limited financial resources of some older people do not permit them the luxury of being out-of-pocket for a few days or weeks until they can be reimbursed. Older people also say that, beyond the rising costs of transpor- tation as an impediment to their doing volunteer work, they do not have adequate means to move about. Many can no longer afford to own, repair, and insure automobiles, and they do not want to be dependent upon others for their movement. In addi- tion, many older people have become afraid to drive or go on buses or subways because their vision is poor, because they fear criminals, or because they do not wish to stand on street corners or in stations waiting for buses or subways. Higher costs are also forcing transit operators to reduce services in many communi- ties, which is also hurting the ability of many people, including the elderly, to get to and from places of interest to them. Finally, public transit throughout the nation has failed to find adequate means of providing services to most of the people who live and work in the vast suburban areas that surround our old central cities. Many people now in their upper 50s and 60s bought homes or rented in these suburbs, and increasingly they are cut off from many pursuits because of inadequate transportation. Older people sometimes stay away from volunteer work, using the excuses of poor health or lack of time, when they are actually feeling "burned-out" or "turned-off." After lifetimes of work and contending with their own concerns, some people do not wish to become involved in activities that might entangle them with other people's problems. (This response is exactly the opposite to that of people who like to focus on other people's problems in order to cope with their own problems, for instance, inactivity, isolation, or loss of purpose.) In other cases, older people resist the impulse or hesitate to become volunteers because they are skeptical about the value of what they would be doing or because they no longer fee! they could tolerate bureaucratic practices. They fear demeaning assignments that other older volunteers have told them they can expect to receive. Or they do not wish to be placed under professional (and especially younger) supervi- sors, individuals they judge to be lacking in understanding about life and survival. In many organizations that do use or could use volunteers, a curious split-level kind of thinking often impedes effective

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THE OLDER VOLUNTEER RESOURCE 59 actions to encourage more volunteer recruitment and retention. In such cases, the organization's leaders may pay lip service to volunteerism, but elements of the professional and clerical staffs may have negative perceptions about volunteers. These individ- uals see all volunteers (but perhaps especially older volunteers) as often unreliable because they seem to give higher priority to their own affairs and needs (when it suits them) than to those of the organization. Professional staff often complain that volun- teers come in and leave whenever they want, lay down conditions on their availability that conflict with the needs of their supervi- sors, and yet demand high-status jobs and recognition. These behaviors lead professionals to conclude that volunteers cannot be counted on to carry important responsibilities and should be given only less sensitive roles. Professional staff members also tend to consider volunteers unruly and beyond effective discipline. They say volunteers want to do things their own way and often complain about the alleged inadequacies of professional staff and the plans they make or orders they give. Further complaints by professionals are that volunteers bother and take the valuable time of supervisors and other staff, require space and other support (and complain when they do not get it), and mill around or get in the way because they are often present when they are not needed. It is not an exaggera- tion to state that paid staff in many organizations have an acquired professional bias against volunteers and often fee] com- pelled to express their negative feelings to those volunteers. The professional bias impediment has growing significance, because many private and voluntary organizations that tradi- tionally use volunteers are becoming more professionalized in their staffing. More and more often, professional staff are being inserted between volunteer governing board members and volun- teers who make up the rank and file workers of organizations. In addition, when paid professional vacancies develop, the "inside" professionals tend to pick as replacements other professionals from inside or outside the organizations involved; they seldom fell the positions from among the inside volunteers who might aspire to a paid job. This process has been taking hold for some years, and, as a result in many organizations the role of volun- teers and their relationships to organizational leaders and pro- fessional staffs are now becoming vague. Also, some of these organizations neglect or do not have effective policies on the roles

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60 JAR OLD A. KIEFFER of volunteers and their advancement or recognition, a growing gap that is reflected later in progressively less effective programs and action for the recruitment, training, and use of volunteers. Not unexpectedly, these conditions, in a circular way, then lead to circumstances in which volunteers become out of touch, ill- informed on organizational priorities, and dissatisfied. Indeed, in such circumstances they become people who may be around but who are definitely in the way. WHAT CAN BE DONE? Corrective measures could be taken in the following areas (each of which is developed in detail later in this section): positive appeal to older people and strengthened recruit ment; improved efforts and means for older volunteer recognition; improved supervision, development, and management of volunteer programs; and removal or reduction of specific impediments to older volun- teer recruitment and retention efforts. As will be seen, these proposed measures are highly interac- tive. Each action, if taken effectively, could be helpful in reinforc- ing the other actions proposed. Positive Appeal to Older People and Strengthened Recruitment Many reasons were given earlier in this paper for the failure to develop major efforts in the recruitment and retention of older volunteers, despite the obvious resource they could be for meet- ing the growing workload problems of social service and other types of service organizations. Yet the 1981 Harris survey sug- gests that a common reason given by older people for their nonin- volvement is that no one really asked them. This response actu- ally has three aspects. The first is the difference between coming forward- volunteering on the basis of one's own initiative and being asked to volunteer. The second has to do with the need for specialized appeals to older people as distinguished from general

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THE OLDER VOLUNTEER RESOURCE 61 calls for volunteers. The third involves the content and methods of specialized appeals to older people. Many older people have become adept over the years at identi- fying and avoiding situations they fee] would be unpleasant. Also, many older people have learned, through long experience, to discount blandishments and sales talk. Yet older people usu- ally are not much different from people of other ages in the way they react to special personal and flattering attention. When someone, especially someone known to and respected by them, personally asks for their help, they are more likely to respond affirmatively than they would if the appeal were nonpersonal or made by someone not known to them. Their egos and even their guilt feelings may then overcome their reasons for hesitation or refusal. Perhaps the personal recruiting effort for older people may have to be more intensive than is needed for younger people, but its dynamics and outcomes are quite similar. Some of the religious organizations have employed these volunteer recruit- ing approaches with success for years. This type of appeal will require a major change in the current volunteer recruitment practices of many organizations. Apart from the need to make recruiting more personalized, they will also have to make a special point of recruiting older people. Orga- nizations such as the American Association of Retired Persons, the National Council on the Aging, the National Council of Senior Citizens, and ACTION (a federal agency) have tried for several years to bring attention to the older person as a valuable volunteer resource. Some interest is growing, but the fact remains, as noted earlier, that most organizations using volun- teers have not yet actively sought to recruit large numbers of older people. What is needed is a major effort by the President and by other public and private sector leaders to urge organizations to gain the special strengths of older people as volunteers and to draw the attention of older people to the opportunities for volunteering and the nation's special need for their help. Such top-level leader- ship efforts need to be well publicized and continued over a period of time. In addition to appealing to older people through the media, other methods must be used: special messages in stores, senior residences, recreation centers, libraries, churches, restau- rants, service clubs and associations, and other places where older people gather. Printed appeals can be helpful, but follow-up

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: 62 JAR OLD A. KIEFFER is also necessary both through networks of older people who can reach each other at the community level and through direct appeals to older people at their gatherings. Private employers can help older volunteer recruitment through counseling older workers, donating funds for recruit- ment efforts and publicity, and "loaning" older employees to organizations needing volunteers (employees can be given time off or recognition for volunteer service). Some employers already do these things, but more need to be brought into the effort. Also, some employers might be willing to donate money to service organizations in proportion to an hourly rate for the time their employees work for these organizations on their own time. Beyond the methodologies of recruitment efforts is~the content of recruitment. The message is critical, especially since older people are quite used to the idea that their skills and experience are not highly valued and that they are likely to be given Tow- ranking tasks if they are accepted as volunteers. If an organiza- tion that uses volunteers means to attract older volunteers, it will find that it must relegate age to the background as a job- or duty-limiting factor. Older people are probably more aware than anyone that the great majority of individuals in their age group are still physically and mentally able. Even many of those who have muscle weaknesses, stiffness in some joints, and some diminishment of vision and hearing can still do many kinds of physical and mental tasks. Most can manage, plan, write, talk, drive, ride, walk, cajole, assemble, use calculators, press buttons, and so on. These people want to feel that they will be given duties that are challenging to them, meaningful to the public and to the volunteer organization, and, above all, truly helpful in dealing with individual and community problems. Many older people will respond better to recruitment efforts if they know that the organization they join will see them as indi- viduals who have skills, experience, and continuing aspirations. With the earlier retirements and longer life expectancies likely in the years ahead, many more older people will perceive that they can have new careers after they retire from their original careers. For some, the way to move toward a new career will be to start as a volunteer in an organization that is doing something of interest to them or that will permit them to learn or practice skills that later can command a salary or wages. They will want to be regarded as still trainable and capable of assuming larger

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THE OLDER VOLUNTEER RESOURCE 63 responsibilities if they can demonstrate growth capacities. For some older people these things are not as important as finding a congenial work atmosphere, including the chance to be with old friends or to make new ones. If asked to volunteer, these people will want to be assured that their part of the work is valuable to the mission of the organization and that they are not being exploited as someone's drudge. In this case, the organization must actually deliver on its recruitment promises. If it does not, its recruiting credibility will be undercut quickly by the effective word-of-mouth communication that exists among older people. Improved Recognition and Appreciation Closely related to recruiting is the degree to which organiza- tions project themselves as solicitous of good morale among their workers. Unpaid volunteers probably will not stay involved long if their morale is poor. Older volunteers are not unlike volunteers of ether ages in their need for recognition and appreciation. If anything, older people may fee] more need to be recognized because they know that they face declining opportunities for their families, friends, and associates to see how their work and efforts are still appreciated and rewarded. Recognition has other values to older volunteers. For those who have been out of organized work for a long time or who are participating in new types of activities as volunteers, commenda- tion and recognition provide a sense of performance evaluation and the encouragement to do more. Recognition can also reassure the family members of older volunteers, who sometimes feel that organizations may be exploiting their older relatives. Recogni- tion award ceremonies allow the families to become more acquainted with the volunteer organization and what it does; they can then fee} proud of their parent or grandparent for doing such useful things. Volunteerism is highly valued in the abstract in American society. Yet many people have the notion that volunteers are considered second-cIass workers and treated that way even in many volunteer organizations. Furthermore, when listed in a resume, volunteer activities seem to be lightly regarded and indeed are often discounted. This is not surprising in a society that tends to equate the work value and importance of people with the compensation they receive. Retired people especially are

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64 JAR OLD A. KIEFFER aware of how their sense of worth declines when they retire and how other people tend to downgrade the importance of a person who is retired. Some of this same kind of depreciation is sensed by older people when they say they are doing volunteer work. One way to help offset these problems would be to encourage organizations that employ volunteers to develop simulated or imputed budgets that estimate the value of the work done by volunteers and the compensation they would get if they were paid. In fact, organizations should assign dollar values to all of the in-kind services or other donated help they receive. These figures should then be incorporated as a special chapter in their published budgets and annual reports. Bringing these figures to light will enable boards of directors, staffs, volunteers, and pub- lic and private sector policymakers, as well as the public, to gain a better perspective on the real value of donated work and serv- ices and how they figure in the total story of what organizations do and what their services really cost. Imputed budgets such as these also help volunteers calculate their financial value to the organizations they serve. Using imputed budgets, they and their employers and the professional staffs of the organizations would see at a glance what would be lost if the volunteer force disappeared. Volunteers could then assign a dollar value to their work in the salary/wage-history portion of their resumes or when they are talking to prospective employers (for paid or other volunteer work) or to friends and family. improved Supervision, Development, and Management All volunteers need a sense of purpose and direction. They also must fee! that they and what they do are highly valued by their employing organization and by the public. Older people are more likely than younger people to become impatient quickly with weak organizational arrangements for volunteers and to speak out or walk away. Then, too, many older people tend to have higher expectations about the value of their skills and experience and the expenditure of their time. Some enter volunteer work with the idea that they should be given responsibilities that involve prestige, scope, and discretion to act. In many cases this is not possible, and both the organizations and the older volun

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THE OLDER VOLUNTEER RESOURCE 65 seers become mutually frustrated and antagonistic. Probably one of the most difficult but also one of the most common situations is the placement of older volunteers under the administrative and program supervision of much younger professionals. Usually both parties are at an extreme disadvantage, and often friction and destructive tension result. There are no easy formulas either to avoid or to remedy these problems. Some useful preventive as well as "damage control" ideas have been assembled by the national volunteer support organizations. Although some of these ideas are intended to help deal with situations involving volunteers of all ages, those out- lined below would have particular utility in organizational rela- tionships with older volunteers. Some volunteers can give a limited amount of time; others can be on the job day in and day out. It is important, therefore, that organizations not Jump all volunteers together in one category when assessing the level and type of responsibilities to which they could be assigned. People of ability and great experience who can devote considerable time to the organization could, in many cases, be treated as regular staff members, except that they do not receive pay and fringe benefits. Too often, volunteers because they are volunteers are denied this treat- ment. In many organizations, stiff rules, often developed as a result of court decisions on liability, prevent volunteers from being able to serve in a line capacity or make commitments that bind the organization or its funds. Lack of compensation appears to be the only factor that bars the volunteer from doing these things. Therefore, one suggestion is that organizations explore and gain legal acceptance of the concept of deputization. Under this concept, the organization agrees to allow a volunteer to per- form certain duties specified in writing. The volunteer accepts these responsibilities but declines compensation. The organiza- tion accepts liability for what the volunteer does and regards him or her as an employee for liability insurance or other legal pur- poses. Most organizations would not need to deputize many vol- unteers, but the arrangement would allow the organization greater flexibility in taking advantage of the skills and experi- ence of volunteers. For people who do not need or want compensa- tion, the arrangement permits them to be helpful without need- less and arbitrary restrictions on what they may do to be helpful.

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66 JAR OLD A KIEFFER The deputization idea has the further advantage that it can be used for varying lengths of time, such as for a day, week, month, or whatever temporary period is appropriate. Far too often the professionals and volunteers in an organiza- tion face each other over an invisible but thick wall that tends to degrade the volunteers, discourage the fullest use of their skills and experience, and deny them a sense of creative participation in shaping, carrying out, and evaluating the effectiveness of what the organization does. Creative participation requires involvement. Organizations need to imbue volunteers with the sense that they the volunteers are genuinely involved in thinking through their organization's problems, opportunities, and priorities. This can be done by a continuous process of brief- ing and debriefing, plus think sessions in which facts, ideas, and constraints are all exposed for mutual consideration and reac- tion. The process takes time, but it pays clividends in terms of improved performance and morale. It is especially important for volunteers to be able to make suggestions as to the best ways they can be employed on organizational tasks and for their sug- gestions to be given careful consideration and follow-up if that is merited. Volunteers should be given a sense of motion once they enter the organization and begin their work. This includes careful training in understanding their expected duties and the mission and character of the organization. Experienced volunteers should be encouraged to help shape and provide such training. Volun- teers also should be encouraged to feel that they can move up in the level of responsibilities they carry. While organizations can- not always find among the volunteers the skills they need in their paid staff, volunteers who wish to have a paid job should be encouraged to apply, if they feel they are qualified, to felt vacan- cies. Some organizations are developing job descriptions for their volunteer jobs. Such descriptions, if brief and clear, can help the volunteer understand both his or her own duties and also clarify the relationships between fellow volunteers, paid staff, and supervisory levels up the line. Beyond the importance of helping volunteers know who does what, organizations should give them a chance to fell various jobs over time. This process gives them an opportunity to learn more about what the organization does, and

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THE OLDER VOLUNTEER RESOURCE 67 it gives them a way to demonstrate that they can learn new things and grow in skill and experience. Despite some natural antipathies, professional staff and volun- teers must learn to rely on each other and work together. Ensur- ing such an outcome has to be one of the principal tasks of organi- zational leaders. Suggestions have been made above for improving some of the substantive aspects of these relationships, but attention must be given to the matter at the logistical or support levels as well. For instance, volunteers must know exactly what help they can get from paid clerical staff the "ground rules" must not be left to chance. Organizations have to recognize that the use of volunteers has costs, but effective Togis- tical support of volunteers pays continuous dividends. Clerical staff must be carefully briefed on how to deal responsively with volunteers who need help with typing, supplies, space, reim- bursements, and directions on where to find people, equipment, forms, and other items necessary to their work. Some organiza- tions try to centralize staff responsibilities for meeting the logis- tics requirements of volunteers to avoid situations in which the clerical staff is placed ureter pressure from many sources at the same time. Other organizations prefer to decentralize these responsibilities and assign them to administrative assistants of the various divisions. The main idea, however, is still to channel volunteer demands and arrange for their needs with some sense of divisional priority. The reaction of clerical staff can be critical in these arrangements. An arrogant or negative secretary or administrative assistant can create an atmosphere in the offices of an organization that directly undercuts the image it seeks to project to its volunteers. Here, too, the problems and opportuni- ties relate to volunteers of all ages, but, older volunteers might well be less patient in confronting unsatisfactory logistical condi- tions and make comments that add to tensions. Or the last resort they may give up on the organization. Removal or Reduction of Impediments to Older Volunteers L'egaZ Restrictions The federal government and some states and localities operate under laws or rules that sharply restrict the use of volunteers.5

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68 JAR OLD A. KIEFFER Such restrictions have developed from fears that the use of unpaid workers could lead to such problems as favoritism, non- professionalism, political intrusion, financial manipulation, and confusion. Also, government workers' unions have feared that the use of volunteers could deprive people of paid work opportuni- ties. These possibilities cannot be disregarded. All of these prob- lems actually occurred at one time or another at various levels of government, and the restrictions have been given the force of law to ensure that they will not happen again. Now, however, new circumstances are arising. Many public services that the public has become accustomed to having or that it must have are being reduced because of unprecedented and currently unmanageable deficits that are confounding efforts to restore the health of the economy. The list of critical individual and community needs left unmet is growing, and these unmet needs have been added to many that already existed before budg- etary concerns became so compelling to policymakers at all lev- els and in both political parties. Under these conditions the pub- lic policy issue to be weighed is an assessment of risk: whether the risks that might be run in expanding the use of volunteers in government agencies, or in expanding the use of more private and voluntary agencies to substitute for government agencies in performing some public or public-supported services, are greater than the risks (including the short- and long-term costs) of failing to perform these services. If enough money is not voted by legisTa- tures at all levels to enable governments to provide mandated and other important services and program leaders cannot hire or retain adequate staff to keep their programs running effectively, should they be left with no options other than to cut out more services or further dilute those still provided? Current legal and other restrictions on the use of volunteers in government programs need review. Also, there should be further study of the confusing cost data that have been used in both sides of the argument on the use of nongovernmental units (both for- prof~t and not-for-prof~t) to perform services now performed by governments. Substantial numbers of capable older people are available to help the nation cope with its growing crisis of unmet needs. It should be possible to open up more opportunities for these people to serve as volunteers in providing services of many types and at the same time protect the public against abuses and avoid casual and unwarranted displacement of paid workers.

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THE OLDER VOLUNTEER RESOURCE 69 Expenses Another impediment to volunteering by some low- and middle- income older people is that they cannot afford out-of-pocket expenses for fuel, parking, food, and sometimes even clothing in connection with work as a volunteer. No estimate can be made of how serious this problem may be. However, the subject keeps appearing on lists of reasons people offer as to why they do not come forward as volunteers, and many older people are too proud to admit that this is a problem for them. The national volunteer support organizations say it is a considerable problem for would- be volunteers. Organizations often see the problem in a very practical way. Current or would-be volunteers ask if expenses can be reimbursed, and the organizations in many cases have to refuse because they do not have the funds. The organizations then find that many of these people do not return. Some organizations have been able to find the funds to offer small grants to volunteers for their expenses. Many more have been unsuccessful, and the deepening funding problems they are experiencing because of the recession suggest that this situation may not change. It could even get worse for those organizations that do provide expenses. Some of the federal older volunteer programs have been providing small grants to reimburse their volunteers for expenses, but the total federal volunteer group is very small.6 Support and Encouragement Some older people, once they have decided to volunteer, will need special attention on the job. Often older people have been out of organized activities for a long time, and they may not be used to working closely with others, to working under supervi- sion, or to meeting deadlines. Some will not have participated in training of anv kind for decades; still others may doubt their ~ ,,, endurance and their capacity to work long periods. Organiza- tions that have volunteer programs can structure their training programs to alert professional staff and other volunteers to the worries and doubts that some older volunteers will have. Recog- nition of this issue by the staff and other volunteers and quiet help and encouragement can go a long way in easing these people through possibly difficult orientation periods.

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70 JAR OLD A. KIEFFER Liability Insurance If a volunteer (of any age) gets hurt or hurts someone while doing volunteer work, who is liable- the volunteer, the organiza- tion, or both? Some organizations have liability insurance to cover themselves for both possibilities. However, this insurance, although decreasing in cost, is still an expensive item for organi- zations that use large numbers of volunteers. For this reason most organizations do not protect their volunteers and often do not protect themselves. In some cases the organizations advise volunteers that they must bear personal responsibility for their actions. Many, however, say nothing about the subject for fear of discouraging people from volunteering. This matter is beginning to concern more and more organiza- tions, but they are divided as to courses of action. Some fear that if they begin buying liability coverage, lawyers will see it as an invitation to test how far they can go in collecting damages. And the whole question of liability has not yet been seen as a major impediment to the recruiting of volunteers. Some allegations are made that the issue could become more important if substantial numbers of older people are attracted to volunteer work. This kind of thinking squares with the commonly held belief that older people have more accidents, are subject to more lapses that could result in other people being injured, and when hurt have more serious problems that are costly to treat. Such thinking probably will change only if more organizations experiment with the recruitment of much larger forces of older volunteers and factual data can be developed on the comparative rates of youn- ger and older volunteers who have accidents or hurt others. The voluntary organizations consider the liability subject to be a gray area that needs careful study and consideration. Most realize that they are operating "at risk," and that the whole voluntary community could one day wake up to find some court decisions that have awarded major damages to someone hurt by a volunteer on duty. The organizations also may find that even some of those that currently carry liability insurance on some of their volunteer leaders are not protected from the actions of their lower-ranking volunteers while on duty. Age Bias The greatest impediment to a major expansion in the numbers of older volunteers is bias against the elderly. Its mitigation will

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THE OLDER VOLUNTEER RESOURCE 71 depend upon individual leadership in organizations that use vol- unteers and among older people themselves. These leadership efforts could be aided by the development of new data or better interpretation of available data on the capacities of older people to learn to adjust, perform skills, and avoid accidents. But gain- ing solid performance data on older workers has been increas- ingly difficult, at least on a current and acceptably large enough scale, because our society has assumed for years that older people were supposed to leave the work force and therefore were not worth observing for testing purposes. The reduction in the num- ber of people over age 55 in the work force continues, and now some believe that the small remnant of this population still working is not representative of the older population and its performance capacities. The means must be developed for conducting large-scale dem- onstrations of the capacities and performance of older workers. Otherwise, our society will not break out of the present circular process wherein we witness the massive departure of older people from the workplace and then say that there are no longer enough older people working to justify the conclusion that most older people could still perform effectively in our economy. The encour- agement of further inquiry, of a search for new knowledge, and of better interpretation of available data in this area accompanied by the articulation of research, interpretation, and demonstra- tion needs could be a major contribution by the Institute of Medicine. NOTES 1. Gallup Organization, Inc., American Volunteer: Survey for Independent Sector (Princeton, N.J., 1981). 2. Louis Harris and Associates, Inc. "Aging in the Eighties: America in Transition." Study for the National Council on the Aging, Inc. (Washington, D.C., 1981); Hamilton and Staff, Inc., "Older Americans and Volunteerism." Survey for the Program Division of the National Retired Teachers Association/American Association for Retired Persons (Washington, D.C., 1981); "Older Americans: An Untapped Resource." Study prepared for the National Committee on Careers for Older Americans, Academy for Educational Development, Inc. (New York, N.Y., 1979). 3. Gallup Organization, Inc., "Americans Volunteer." 4. Edmund H. Worthy, "Older Volunteers: Profiles and Prospects." Paper presented at the Eighth Annual Meeting of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education, Feb. 12, 1982. In this paper, Worthy summarized both the published and unpublished parts of the 1981 Harris survey (see note 2) relating to the views of older respondents about volunteer activities. He also provided independent analysis of the

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72 JAR OLD A. KIEFFER Harris data. See also a later paper by Worthy and Catherine Venture Merkel, "Older Volunteers: A Fact Sheet" (Washington, D.C.: National Council on the Aging, Inc., 1982). 5. Limitation on Voluntary Services, 31 U.S.C. .L1342. This provision developed from a section of the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921. Section 1342 has been amended to permit greater latitude in the use of youth volunteers and the provision of expense stipends to them. In 1982 Representative Mickey Edwards (a Republican from Oklahoma) introduced H.R. 1323, the Volunteers in Government Act. The bill would authorize greater freedom to federal agency heads to use volunteers. Comparable bills were introduced in the Senate, but major support for the bills failed to develop. Also in that Congress, Representative Panetta of California introduced H.R. 1264, which would have authorized the creation of a Select Committee on Voluntary Service to study ways of encouraging more volunteerism and make reports to the Congress on ways to remove impediments. The bill mentioned older people as a resource for voluntary agencies but did not emphasize this aspect of volunteer potential. 6. "The Office of the Older American Volunteer Programs, a part of ACTION-the national volunteer agency-includes three programs: the Foster Grandparent Program, the Senior Companion Program, and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program. Together, these programs involve 323,310 volunteers, 60 years or older. They serve 1,042 local projects and devote an annual total of 75,768,484 hours of service to their local communities" (from "ACTION News Older American Volunteer Programs Fact Sheet"; information current as of April 1982).