“Charity begins at home”: Informal caring barriers to formal volunteering among older people
VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Formal volunteering is an important economic and social activity. In many countries, prevalence of volunteering is decreasing overall, including among older people who constitute a major volunteering resource. This qualitative study explored reasons for non-volunteering among seniors, with a focus on those who attribute their non-volunteering to their existing helping commitments. Forty-nine Australian interviewees aged 60 + years described a range of social, psychological, and temporal factors that resulted in their prioritization of informal rather than formal volunteering activities. These factors are mapped onto a theoretical framework matrix, with social identity and social capital theories appearing to possess the most explanatory power. The findings suggest that programs designed to encourage formal volunteering among older people need to be implemented in a manner that recognizes that members of this group can hold many other responsibilities that limit their ability to participate, especially those assisting in the care of multiple generations.