Volunteer in Retirement

21 Best Volunteer Gigs In Retirement in 2021: Learn How To Make An Impact

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Often seniors will struggle with finding their purpose during retirement. Volunteering is a great way to give back to others and find fulfillment in your life once you leave your career. Here is our top volunteer list. But keep reading! There is more to know about volunteering in retirement than you think!

  1. Habitat for Humanity
  2. Humane Society and ASPCA
  3. Veteran Organizations
  4. Hospice and VNA
  5. SCORE – Small business mentor
  6. Libraries
  7. Hospitals
  8. Food Banks
  9. Meals on Wheels
  10. Red Cross
  11. National Parks System
  12. Tutoring
  13. YMCA
  14. Homeless Shelters
  15. Retirement homes
  16. Safe Space
  17. Museums
  18. Local Theaters
  19. Peace Corps
  20. United Way
  21. Exchange Student Program

Volunteering is how many seniors choose to spend their time in retirement which helps you to stay healthy and active. You can use your skills obtained during your career and your life to benefit many organizations looking to fill roles within their organization and make a positive impact on your community.

What Are The Benefits of Volunteering?

Many people are asking if retiring early, or at all, is really the best thing for seniors. There are 6 stages in retirement. Often, many seniors will experience a sense of loss when they leave their job, In addition, the lack of direction or purpose for their lives can cause some seniors to suffer from cognitive decline, depression and loneliness.

Volunteering is a great way to combat those issues with retirement. You just need to decide what direction you want to take your focus during your second act.

Volunteer in retirement

How Can I Make The Most of My Volunteering Experience in Retirement

People work best when they are working within their own dreams and passions during retirement. Although we gave you an extensive list of volunteer opportunities do not let that list limit you in your search for the perfect spot.

As an example, you may be into crafting or art. Volunteering your talents and teaching a class at a retirement home may work but if you would rather work with kids talk to a local school and ask if you can come in and teach a class.

Do not forget about private schools too. Many private schools are open to having volunteers come in to help teach the kids a wide range of skills such as cooking, art and crafts, as well as tutoring.

  • Create a volunteer resume listing your skills and attributes.
  • Determine your level of involvement – do you want to do events once in a while or work a set amount of hours each week?
  • Be honest about your qualifications.
  • Set clear boundaries on your time before you call.
  • Ask other seniors what volunteer opportunities they like best.

There is nothing limiting you but your imagination. Don’t necessarily assume that you should volunteer in the same capacity as you were working. Often volunteers can suffer from burnout if they get to close to their previous careers.

Determine What Type of Volunteering You Will Do

You may already be living life to the fullest and not want to dedicate a lot of your time to working for a local charity. Going into a volunteer situation with a vague plan will only frustrate you and your volunteer coordinator. You will want to determine your level of involvement before you call and make any commitments. Also, understanding how your skills will best suit the organization will be helpful in finding you a role.

There are 3 main categories of benevolence when considering volunteer roles.

  1. Physical labor
  2. Monetary, food or clothing donations
  3. Knowledge or previous career experience

It is important that you determine what category you fall into when making your plans to help an organization. Making these determinations early may even help you decide which organization to put at the top of your list.

As an example, Habitat for Humanity offers volunteer opportunities in their retail store, ReStore, or you can work on one of the homes they are building alongside the new homeowner.

How Do I Find Volunteer Opportunities In My Area?

Once you have your volunteer resume with your skills and past experience, I recommend that you make a list of your top 5 organizations that you would like to serve. The best way to find retirement volunteer opportunities is to go to their website. Often, calling is your best way to learn more about what small local organizations and schools have an immediate need for.

Organizations like the United Way often work with smaller organizations that need assistance. They will list their volunteer opportunities on the United Way website so you can search in your area.

Here is a screenshot of the opportunities I found in my area. This is a great tool to find events and other volunteer opportunities that you may not have heard about.

There are also organizations that specialize in helping match volunteers to organizations. Catchafire is the perfect place to start if you want to browse opportunities online.

Also, organizations that have websites often will list their opportunities and requirements online so you can look right from your home.

Sometimes Volunteering Is Not What You Think

It may not be all rainbows and unicorns when you sign on with an organization. Especially when it comes to dealing with hard-luck cases, budget concerns and lack of organization. You may have to deal with physical concerns, harsh weather conditions or complaints from people.

Often when a retiree wants to leave an organization they have feelings of guilt because there are issues which mean they need help. No one wants to feel like they are abandoning a sinking ship.

It is important to set boundaries upfront and make sure you have an exit strategy in place before you get started.

  • Start with short term opportunities that have an end date until you get to know how an organization is run.
  • Do not necessarily look for opportunities within your previous career path. If you were burned out when you retired you can feel that way again and resent volunteering there. Many opportunities do not require skills, they just need the body.
  • Be realistic. Often these organizations are short on staff and funds to get things accomplished. It is not your job to fix all of that. You are there to serve but not solve the world’s problems.
  • Be honest about your feelings if you are struggling. It is okay to look for other ways to give back and find a different place to do so.

Volunteering is not the only way to find purpose during your retirement. It is important to remember there are other ways to feel fulfilled. May seniors are working a part-time job, going back to college, or helping their family members to find purpose. This is your retirement! Do what is right for the last leg of your journey.

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45 responses to “21 Best Volunteer Gigs In Retirement in 2021: Learn How To Make An Impact”

  1. Cindy Avatar

    What a great list of volunteer opportunities! Sadly, I find myself too busy at the moment to do much volunteering but it’s something I’ll definitely get back to one day.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I would love to find more time to volunteer! We have to be realistic about the time requirements too. I love to jump in ad help when I can.

  2. Melissa Jones Avatar
    Melissa Jones

    I love this! I’ve always been involved with Scouting as a kid and with my kids and volunteering has been something I’ve tried to instill in my kids and my scouts!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Yes! Scouts are a great way to set the tone for kids. I think it might be a good place for grandparents too with their grandkids. There are so many single parents that struggle with getting their kids out there.

  3. Danielle Ardizzone Avatar
    Danielle Ardizzone

    What great ideas!

  4. KENDRA Avatar

    These are such great ideas for volunteering after retirement. I love that you brought up being careful not to choose something that you might already be burnt out from as a result of your career.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Yes … one of the reason’s I do not volunteer for SCORE, yet. I need more time before throwing myself into helping people get financing.

  5. Alice Avatar

    These are great place to volunteer. I am only semiretired and still work part time at Walmart. Between that and blogging I don’t have much spare time.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Well, it is important that if you keep your focus on building your blog and business!

  6. Marianne Avatar

    These are great suggestions even if you are not retired! I used to volunteer my time for a variety of different things, but life has been way to busy the last few years! Hopefully I will have more opportunities soon!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Thanks Marianne! Life can certainly take over.

  7. Lisa Manderino Avatar
    Lisa Manderino

    This is such a great way to serve the community! I love getting involved!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Thanks Lisa! I am glad to hear so many love doing more.

  8. Suzanne Avatar

    I love that you’ve written a well thought out article on ways to give back! Thank you for this!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Thank you, Suzanne! It is an important part of life.

  9. Alyssa Avatar

    Great post, I’m sure there are allot of retirees that have enough time in their hands to volunteer!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      It definitely gives you purpose in retirement.

  10. Keirsten Avatar

    What great ideas. I know my mom is always trying to stay busy & keep with, definitely sharing with her.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Awesome! I hope she decides to give back!

  11. Chelsea Avatar

    These are great. There are so many benefits of volunteering and now that I volunteer so regularly, I can’t believe I didn’t do it before!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I do not think people realize how much they can gain from volunteering in retirement! Thanks Chelsea!

  12. Barbara Avatar

    These are all great ideas!

  13. Tiffany Avatar

    I loved volunteering when I wasn’t feeling fulfilled by my job. Helping out is a great feeling for all ages!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Absolutely! I am glad to see people get out there no matter their age!

  14. Sabrina Avatar

    I hope to soon be retired and I will want to spend some of the time being productive by giving back to my community. This gave me a lot to think about. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Awesome news! Your community will thank you for it!

  15. Elaina Avatar

    These are great ways to give back and make lasting connections.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I argee! The social aspect is so important!

  16. Debbie Avatar

    Wow! Great list and info. I didn’t even realize you could volunteer at some of these places.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Oh awesome! I am glad I was able to get them some exposure!

  17. Kathleen Avatar

    I love this! I am not retired but recently had to leave my job due to a move and the pandemic and even though I have my kids to keep me busy I did feel a sense of loss! Volunteering is such an amazing way to be able to give back to others and also connect with other people <3

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Yes! No matter the reason we can all experience a sense of loss during a life change. Glad to see we could help!

  18. Holly Avatar

    I love volunteering.. and as I am aging it also gives me a feeling of usefulness and something to look forward to.. great list of places that need help!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Thanks Holly! And good for you on getting out there!

  19. Sydney Avatar

    There are some great volunteer places on that list! Even if you are not retired, it can be great to volunteer!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Exactly! This list can be for anyone!

  20. Sandi Barrett Avatar
    Sandi Barrett

    Giving back is so important. I volunteer at a local pet shelter. It brings me great joy.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Pet shelters are super popular. I always see senior volunteers at ours playing with the dogs.

  21. Megan Avatar

    What a great list! My parents have retired and volunteer at a food bank once a week. They love doing it and it is great for them to get out and see people!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      That is awesome to hear! A food bank is a great choice!

  22. Jane Avatar

    What a well written post Trish. We’re not getting any younger and these are great ideas. Not only does it keeps us active, we can make a difference on someones life.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Thanks, Jane! It is definitely important to have a purpose when you are retired. Making a difference has a huge pay off for retirees.

  23. Cindy Avatar

    Great information. I’ve been a volunteer, one way or another most of my life, and giving back is an amazing feeling.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      It really gives retirees a sense of purpose and joy. I am glad to see you have made it a life-long habit!

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