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Hearts of Gold


Older Canadians are among the most active and socially engaged citizens in the country. However, those organizations seeking their services will need to adopt new strategies to attract their attention, according to the National Advisory Council on Aging (NACA).

In a recent bulletin, NACA reports:

Seventy-seven per cent of Canadians aged 65 and older made direct contributions to charities in 2000, donating a total of $854 million
While less that a quarter of all people aged 55 and older volunteer officially, many retirees (16 per cent of men and 15 per cent of women) regularly engage in caring for friends, relatives and neighbours
Three million retirees spend five billion hours of their time each year on productive activities, adding about $ 60 billion to Canada’ s economy
And almost two-thirds of older Canadians volunteered informally in 2003 (Statistics Canada)

Clearly older Canadians have hearts of gold but expect the battle to win them to be hard-fought. “Gone are the days of seniors looking for ways to fill up their time,” NACA says.

The report also suggests that organizations keep in mind that volunteering is a two-way exchange. Older adults today “are used to being productive members of society and to experiences that provide intrinsic rewards (such as learning, sense of accomplishment and problem solving) and a few extrinsic rewards (for example, thanks and recognition, transportation subsidies or input into programming).”

Today, those organizations that are capable of offering older adults meaningful and challenging experiences that tap into their wide-range of skills are the most likely to attract their services.

Seniors Contribute! (January 2006) is available at: