Virtual Volunteering and Other Strategies that Increase Access to Volunteering Among Older Adults

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jennifer Crittenden, PhD, MSW

Our Team

Project Summary

Research literature underscores the positive health and well-being outcomes experienced by older adults who engage in volunteerism. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased health and isolation risks for older adults while also threatening the connection that older adults have with traditional on-site volunteer assignments. Virtual volunteerism (VV) offers a possible solution to this for older adults in the volunteer sector and more information is needed on its current and potential use. Drawing input from three national service programs, RSVP Senior Companion, and Foster Grandparents, this exploratory three-year study aims to describe the benefits, opportunities, and challenges of VV from both volunteer and host program/site perspectives. This will be done through:

  • Semi-structured interviews with national service program directors and thought leaders in the volunteerism/civic engagement.
  • Survey of RSVP program stations.
  • In the subsequent years of the project interviewing and surveying older adult volunteers from across all three AmeriCorps Seniors service programs to identify benefits that are most attractive to volunteers and would result in the highest level of recruitment and retention for future volunteer cohorts.

The purpose of this research is to create recommendations that programs can put into place to increase access to virtual volunteer opportunities across digital disparities. Virtual volunteering was used as a stop-gap measure for many organizations during the Covid-19 pandemic and this research looks at how we can take the relatively newfound platform for volunteering to the next level.

Virtual Volunteering Visual 

Virtual Volunteering Venn-Diagram 


Resource List

Study Description 

August 2023 Study Update

We are currently recruiting RSVP program directors for a survey about the use of virtual volunteering. If you’d like to view a copy of the survey questions prior to completing it online, please click here to view a PDF sample of the survey questions. Please refer to your recruitment e-mail for a link to complete the survey or contact Jennifer Crittenden at

Study Posters/Presentations

Zooming for a Cause: A Conversation About Engaging Older Adults with Virtual Volunteering

Please click here to view or download this presentation. This presentation was given at AmeriCorps Seniors Convening in Washington D.C. on May 24, 2023. 

Poster Abstract: 

This presentation presents the aim of the research project to examine virtual volunteering (VV) among older adults and describe benefits, opportunities, and challenges from volunteer and host program perspectives. Year one of the environmental scan and station surveys are examined as well as year two and three plans. Emerging themes of benefits, challenges, and opportunities are presented.  


If you have questions about the project, please contact Jennifer Crittenden at


This material is based upon work funded by the Office of Research and Evaluation at AmeriCorps under Grant No. 22RE249044 through the National Service and Civic Engagement research grant competition. Opinions or points of view expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of, or a position that is endorsed by, AmeriCorps.