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Announcing PowerUP!

April 22, 2013 in Engaging Wisdom


  • The power of older Americans, currently 40 million strong and growing, is a potentially unstoppable resource to solve the aging crisis.
  • As National Volunteer Week 2013 kicks off, the Aging Network’s Volunteer Collaborative is launching PowerUP! to help leaders in the aging and disability networks tap the skills and passion of older adult volunteers—and power up their agencies.


When there is a crisis, the best of America shows up. Currently, America is facing a crisis of needs for many older adults. As in many emergency situations, the heroes may be not only the people in uniform, but also everyday people who give their skills, knowledge, and problem-solving ability to bring everyone to safety.

Our nation’s aging crisis sprang in part from federal, state, and local funding cuts that are hitting aging services particularly hard. Costs for health care and basic necessities such as food, heat, and transportation are escalating.  Older adults who have disabilities, have low incomes, or are disenfranchised are caught in the middle, without the supports they need to live healthy, independent lives.

The crushing size of this crisis demands a response of equal magnitude.  That is why the aging and disability services networks are engaging the nation’s only growing natural resource—older adults.

With roughly 10,000 people reaching age 65 every day, a wealth of skills and energy is flooding the potential volunteer pool. Of those who are retiring, many are coming into leisure time wanting to devote their newfound time to activities that will allow them to create real impact in the world.

They bring with them skills and a passion to serve developed over a lifetime. From serving meals to serving on advisory boards, they can provide solutions to the aging and disability services organizations struggling to meet growing demand for services.

The power of older Americans, currently 40 million strong and growing, is a potentially unstoppable resource to solve the challenges that growl at older adults in need.

As National Volunteer Week 2013 kicks off, the aging and disability networks are declaring that volunteers are quintessential to future success. Our goal is to get to one million volunteers serving the Aging Network by 2015. Starting today, the Aging Network’s Volunteer Collaborative is supporting these efforts to power up volunteer engagement with a PowerUP! initiative.

PowerUP! gives leaders in the aging and disability networks the strategies and tools they need to power up their agencies’ services by tapping the skills and passion of older adult volunteers. This engagement also supports older adult volunteers in powering up their own skills, health, and lifelong learning.

PowerUP! advances volunteer engagement in two ways:

  • With a nationally branded suite of public relations and volunteer recruitment materials, which are available to all aging and disability network organizations and programs starting today.
  • Through a pilot volunteer training program that will roll out on May 15, during Older Americans Month, here in DC.

In keeping with the Volunteer Collaborative’s philosophy and operating strategy, the PowerUP! materials respond to the identified and expressed needs of aging and disability networks’ organizations and programs for assistance with messaging, recruitment, and desire to be part of a larger initiative.  These materials, adaptable to local circumstance and volunteer program operations, are intended to be part of a tide that will lift all boats.

Keep an eye out for additional announcements continuing through May, Older Americans Month, about how we are hoping to work with you to PowerUP! your agencies and volunteer programs to expand your reach through increased volunteer engagement. Together, we can reach our overall goal of a million volunteers by 2015 to meet the growing needs within aging and disability services.

Learn more about PowerUP! Please share your thoughts in the Comments.

To find more perspectives on volunteering, scroll through other Engaging Wisdom posts.

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  1. willie alston says:

    I would like to hear our ideas for Volunteer Team Leaders. I recruit and train volunteer ombudsman and I’m considering setting up Team Leaders to help monitor and manage more volunteers.

    What type of incentives do you think attract volunteers to take on extra responsibilities as team leaders?

    • Avatar of Rebecca Rebecca says:

      It’s great to hear you are considering setting up a team to help monitor and manage more volunteers. This is a great way to expand capacity.

      What we have learned about incentives for team leaders, is that the most important incentive is the compelling need and opportunity to make an impact. A direct “ask” works best: “We need help to …; Vulnerable are at risk and we need your help…; Join with a number of colleagues to ….; etc.

      During the initial demonstration and pilot phases, several sites began to offer financial incentives for team leaders. Most sites, however, did not. After a short time, the sites offering incentives found it was unnecessary and stopped offering them. What made the difference in attracting the team members and team leaders was: clarity about the important, compelling problem, issue, need to be address; the potential, measurable, difference or impact that could be made; and the latitude or freedom they had to give input and help decide the direction in what needed to be done.

      Additionally, we suggest you look at two webinar series: Volunteer Program Leader Series (http://agingnetworkvolunteercollaborative.org/resources/417/) and Aging-Network Leaders Series (http://agingnetworkvolunteercollaborative.org/resources/308/) that are posted on our Website (http://agingnetworkvolunteercollaborative.org/) that provide further detailed information and strategies in response to your query.

      Please let us know your experience as we all learn together about what works best.


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