Health Benefits

5 Ways to Volunteer in Retirement

Affectionate mature woman embracing pet dog in nature

There are currently hundreds of non-profit organizations in need of your time, skills, and expertise. If you’re looking to give back in retirement, we’ve rounded up some of the best volunteering opportunities to consider. Keep in mind volunteering may require a basic orientation as well as a minimum time commitment.

1. AmeriCorps Seniors

AmeriCorps Seniors is open to individuals 55 and older. The program aims to match over 200,000 volunteers with partner organizations annually. From becoming a foster grandparent to being a senior companion, or fighting poverty, there’s sure to be a program that resonates with you. Some may even offer a modest stipend to qualified, low-income volunteers.

Additionally, volunteering with AmeriCorps Seniors is a great way to continue building relationships in retirement, with 88% of participants saying they felt fewer feelings of isolation after joining.

2. Global Volunteers

If you’re looking to volunteer across the world with individuals of all ages, Global Volunteers may be the right fit for you. The organization is known for service assignments abroad in communities unseen by conventional tourists. The project list is extensive, with locations ranging from rugged, physically challenging environments to classroom-type settings in small towns or urban areas. Once you find some assignments of interest, fill out a contact form. From there, a volunteer coordinator will help you decide which assignment best suits your interests and skills.

3. Become a Docent or Tour Guide

Retirement is a great time to turn your lifelong hobbies into full-time volunteer pursuits or learn more about topics that have long held your interest. Places like universities, museums, and historical sites may offer docent (or teaching) programs that can train you to lead tours, preserve landmarks, or educate the public. Other less formal sites may allow you to learn on the job.

4. Humane Societies, Animal Shelters, or Wildlife Centers

Your local animal shelter is always in need of volunteers. A quick search for “animal services” on your city’s website is sure to connect you with the right resources. From fostering to fundraising, grant writing or even being a legal advocate, there’s a role for you. Volunteering with animals is also a great way to get a furry fix if you don’t want the full-time commitment of your own pet.

If wildlife interests you, check out possible opportunities at one of the 110 wildlife facilities throughout California. There you can assist in rescuing and rehabilitating sick, injured, and orphaned native wildlife.

5. CalPERS-Covered Employers

Consider volunteering for one of the hundreds of CalPERS-covered employers. While service as a bona fide volunteer is not subject to retired annuitant restrictions, it’s important to note that you can’t volunteer in a position that is normally compensated, or in order to avoid said restrictions. Service that is not in a bona fide volunteer position will have to comply with retired annuitant restrictions. For more on information on working after retirement, read our publication Employment After Retirement (PUB 33) (PDF).

Additionally, you could go the route of becoming a CalPERS Ambassador. The program serves as a public education campaign that informs active and retired members about CalPERS business, so they can educate their communities. We encourage Ambassadors to stay informed and share their own stories about public service whenever and wherever they’re comfortable. Email the CalPERS Ambassador Program for more details.