Volunteer Opportunities for Seniors | Aging

Finding a volunteer position as you approach retirement or after you’ve stopped working has a myriad of benefits. You could learn new skills, be physically engaged, help others, fulfill a role, and build relationships. There are many ways to volunteer in retirement, ranging from local organizations to national centers and even online programs. Some positions offer a stipend to help cover associated costs. You will usually be asked for a time commitment, which can vary from a few hours to weeks, months or more.

Consider these volunteer opportunities for seniors:

  • Charities and Nonprofits.
  • Parks.
  • Local museums.
  • Community gardens.
  • Arts organizations.
  • Sport events.
  • Animal shelters.
  • Schools nearby.
  • Mentoring programs.

Charities and Nonprofits

Check with Goodwill stores, food pantries and churches in your community to see if positions are available. “There are opportunities for everyone that match their interests and the time they have to volunteer,” says Rick Cohen, director of communications at the National Council of Nonprofits in Washington, DC.

You can also consult national organizations, including:

  • AARP. In addition to its affiliated charity, the AARP Foundation, you can find volunteer programs for driver safety, tax relief, and other causes that match your interests.
  • Alzheimer Association. Raise awareness and funds, and support people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families through volunteer positions.
  • AmeriCorps Seniors. Get involved and help your community with a variety of options available to people 55 and older.
  • Feed America. Join your local food bank to provide meals for your community.
  • Habitat for Humanity. Repair homes or work at a local Habitat ReStore in your area.


Local, state and national parks often hire volunteers to work as tour guides, serve as campground hosts or help with maintenance. Desk and tour guide support positions may also be available. If you prefer to work in certain seasons, such as during the summer so you can travel to a different location in the winter, communicate this to staff when discussing volunteer options.

Local museums

If you know the history of your area or are passionate about a local attraction, check out your city’s museums to see if they need help. You can teach a workshop, work the front desk, collect tickets, or help with archiving. There may be opportunities to volunteer during peak times, such as the tourist season in the summer or school outings in the fall.

Community gardens

Cities with gardens often need help maintaining the plots. If you have a green thumb, you can offer to help with seed preparation, planting and weeding, or creating cages and fences. You can also help with marketing if the organization is looking to expand plots and attract more gardeners.

Arts organizations

If you’ve had a creative career, you might be thrilled to teach a painting class or run a drawing club. Local orchestras can bring in musicians who volunteer their time and talents for a specific event. If you sing, there might be a local choir performing during the holiday season. Depending on your availability and interest, you could start your own arts organization if there isn’t one in your area.

Sport events

If you played baseball as a kid or participated in competitive swimming, you could volunteer your time as an assistant coach or event organizer. Some organizations may give you the chance to promote a certain sport. For example, Pickleball Ambassadors often teach beginners and clinics at no cost. If you belong to a golf club or gym, learn about ways to spend more time there and help others. Some communities hire volunteers for major sporting events to help prepare for the influx of visitors and clean up afterwards.

animal shelters

Some organizations that focus on finding homes for animals have ongoing funding needs. You could help write grant proposals, collect donations, or help publicize the shelter to raise awareness. If you are mobile and able to have animals in your home, you can enroll in a foster program. These positions generally provide care for animals until they find permanent homes.

Nearby schools

You could volunteer your time as a tutor for students who need help with certain subjects. While some schools may ask you to come in person, others will be open to online arrangements. If you have worked in the field of education during your career, certain fields may correspond to your expertise, such as special needs or physical education. You could help teachers in their classrooms or serve as a chaperone on field trips. Career Village is an online forum that connects students to a network of experienced volunteers who can help with career advice.

Mentorship programs

If you had a specialized career, you could contact your former employer to arrange meetings with young workers to help them develop their skills. “Older adults have a wealth of life experiences and expertise, personal and professional, that would benefit organizations,” says David Lewis, founder and CEO of Board Member Connect in San Diego. You could find fulfillment serving on the board of an organization that is close to your heart. “Board positions can range from local to regional and all the way up to the national level if the senior has the appropriate knowledge and skills,” says Lewis.

Some charities or nonprofits offer ways to help the next generation. “Adoptive grandparent programs allow seniors to relive the joys of nurturing the young by nurturing and supporting a child emotionally,” says Stephan Baldwin, founder of the Assisted Living Center in Alpharetta, Georgia. “Like foster parents, these programs also provide you with a stipend to cover the cost of caring for your adoptive grandchild.”

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