The Gerontologist, Vol 31, Issue 2 183-194, Copyright © 1991 by The Gerontological Society of America
Older volunteers: a discussion of the Minnesota Senior Study
LR Fischer, DP Mueller and PW Cooper
Wilder Research Center, Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, St. Paul, MN.
We used findings from the Minnesota Senior Study to examine the theoretical
and methodological difficulties of defining, coding, and analyzing data on
older volunteers. This study, the first statewide survey of the needs and
resources of the elderly in Minnesota in almost 20 years, found that over
half (52%) of older Minnesotans do volunteer work for
organizations--considerably higher than has been found in national surveys.
Problems in definition and methodology, however, have confounded analyses.
This paper proposes a new conceptual model for classifying volunteer roles,
based on three dimensions: whether the voluntary service is "formal" or
"informal"; whether the activity entails a regular or an occasional time
commitment; and the nature of the service activity (person-to-community,
person-to-object, or person- to-person).