Impact Hours: connecting seniors’ experience and the community’s needs

by Christine Franklin

Do you know individuals, retired or later in their careers, who would like to apply their skills and experience to a good cause, and are looking for short-term volunteer opportunities?

ImpactHours.org is a new website that connects individuals aged 55 and over with Ottawa non-profits for short-term, skill-based volunteer opportunities.

Spotlighted by the Council on Aging as an “innovative age-friendly initiative” and recently featured on CBC Ottawa Morning, Impact Hours provides seniors with access to an inventory of volunteer opportunities posted by non-profits in need of their skill-sets and experience.

Volunteers play a vital role in supporting non-profits in their social missions to do good in the community. However, the expectations and attitudes of volunteers are changing, with many wanting flexibility.

In my conversations with older adults, some shared that they were reluctant to take on a regular volunteer commitment but would welcome informal, “one-off” volunteer opportunities that valued their time and experience.

Unfortunately, short-term, skill-based volunteer opportunities can be difficult to find.

Non-profits, with limited resources and gaps to fill, could benefit from donated skills and experience of adults over 55 to help with specific needs in support of their core missions, or perhaps to assist with a question in such areas as technology, marketing, or fundraising.

Some organizations, such as the Ottawa Tool Library, are already actively engaging the skills of older adults and are increasing their impact as a result. “Older adults have a tremendous amount of knowledge that would be so sad to not pass on to the next generation,” says Bettina Vollmerhausen, co-founder of the Ottawa Tool Library.

“At our tool library, we have many people over 55 who share their skills in meaningful ways, either as tool librarians, tool ninjas, or tool doctors. In particular, our tool ninjas like sharing their gained knowledge around proper tool handling and project management during our Maker Days, when members come to work on their DIY projects with the tools in our inventory.”

Impact Hours, a free local service, was developed in the belief that small actions can have an impact for the benefit of individuals, non-profits and the wider community.

Here are just a few of the volunteer opportunities currently listed on the site by non-profits wanting to engage skilled volunteers:

Repair Café Fixers (Ottawa Tool Library)
Skill-Based Mentors (Junior Achievement Ottawa)
Environmental Project Advice (Ottawa Eco-Talent Network)
Construction of Sunshelter Structure (Canadensis Botanical Garden Society)
Videographer (The Glebe Centre)
Writers (Council on Aging, Ottawa Network for Education, Dementia Justice Society of Canada)

Visit ImpactHours.org to view other volunteer opportunities and to learn more about how the platform facilitates connections between skilled volunteers over 55 and non-profits.

You can also sign up for Impact Hours’ newsletter and subscribe to email alerts for new volunteer listings that match preferred search criteria.

Spread the word about Impact Hours with individuals who may be interested in sharing their experience and non-profits that could use some help!

Christine Franklin is the founder of Impact Hours and a federal public servant. She can be reached at info@impacthours.org.