Volunteering by older people in the EU

Volunteering by older people in the EU

Anja Ehlers, Gerhard Naegele and Monika Reichert,
Europe and Central Asia
Enabling Environment for Volunteering

Fast read

  • This paper looks at the contribution of older people as volunteers in Europe as opposed to beneficiaries of volunteer action.
  • The report is based on 30 case studies from 11 European countries where volunteers—not always exclusively older people—were successfully engaged in meaningful projects of all kinds. The cases demonstrate best practice in all aspects of the issue, ranging from strategies to recruit older volunteers, to ways of keeping them engaged and making full use of their talents.


The report found that recognizing the potential contribution of older people is essential to engage them effectively. Older people contribute to a range of voluntary activities that go far beyond traditional age-related issues, such as support to frail or sick older people. To maximize their contribution, the report emphasizes the need for volunteering support at both the policy and practical levels. It also outlines various measures needed to promote the social and cultural integration of population groups at risk of social exclusion.

The report provides volunteer-involving organizations and other stakeholders with key insights and recommendations on how best to engage older people as volunteers (including those at risk of social exclusion). It also recommends that volunteer-involving organizations consider several factors to facilitate the engagement of older people, highlighting the importance of reliable funding, recruitment and retention strategies.