Bridging the Gap
Reaching the Next Generation of
League Leaders
Let’s talk about a
phenomenon. . .
Each Generation. . .
Modes of communicating
Defining moments
Each generation is its own culture.
You might hear. . .
Seniors are the ones who
care about the broader
community and are the
backbone of volunteer
programs and service
organizations. Young people
are selfish and don’t want
to make commitments.
Or this. . .
Young people are the true
activists today. Older people
may do nice, helpful things
as volunteers, but cuttingedge work for social change
is being done mainly by the
What Does this Mean for League?
• Understand differences
• Embrace differences
• Be open to try
something new and
relinquishing some
We’re generalizing here.
Watch out for
Silent Generation
Born 1925 to 1945
~ 30 million Americans
DEFINING MOMENT: Pearl Harbor, 12/7/41
Dedication to their job
Follow the rules
Respect for authority
Prefer hierarchal organization
Patient (don’t need instant gratification)
Traditional expectations
May use computers to communicate with children
and grandchildren
• Cautious about technology
Baby Boomers
Born 1946 to 1962
~ 80 million Americans
Largest generation in US
President John Kennedy’s
assassination, 11/22/63
May have workaholic tendencies
Loyal to organizations
Support personal causes
Hard workers (want gratification
from work)
Seek self-improvement and growth
Like technology that “works” and makes their
lives easier
Gen X
Born 1963 to 1980
~45 million Americans
Challenger Disaster, 1/28/86
• Seek balance between work, volunteerism and
personal life
• Loyal to people
• Relatively informal “team” work and volunteer style
• Self reliant
• Want to have fun at work and volunteer activities
• Like to work with latest technology
• Aware of diversity and think globally
Gen Y/ Millennials
Born 1981 to 2002
~70 million Americans
Children of boomers
Columbine High School
Killings, 4/20/99 and
World Trade Towers
Bombing, 9/11/01.
• Demand balance between work, volunteerism and personal
• Self-assured and achievement–focused
• Loyal to ideas, causes and products
• Strong morals and community service
• Eager to make a positive impact while volunteering
• Tolerant
• Expect the latest technology
• Expect an active voice in decision making and planning
• Want immediate feedback
To Feel valued 85%
Recognition and appreciation 74%
A Supportive environment 73%
A Capable workforce 72%
To Be part of a team 68%
So what’s the big deal?
Work/Volunteer-Life Balance
• Boomers:
– “Live to Work!”
– Work is a location
• Gen X/ Gen Y:
– “Work to Live!”
– Work is an activity
Scenario 1:
“Wow! You remind me so
much of my granddaughter.”
OR. . . .
“Wow! You remind
me so much of my
Scenario 2:
• The League President
explains the details of a
very important project,
but. . .
• the Communications
Chair, keeps checking her
iPhone during the Board
Scenario 3
• The board is discussing the weekly hot topics
luncheon they’ve been doing for years. The
newest member of the board is vocal about
some new ideas.
Scenario 4
• One board member
thinks that it would be
great to start up a
League Facebook page,
but there is a lot of
resistance at the board
“The solution to generational differences has to
do more with respecting people as people and
unique individuals than any prescribed formula.”
~Paula Gregorowics, The Paula G Company
Questions for League
• In recruiting for and recognizing
volunteers, do we imply that older or
younger people are the most involved or
are the best?
Questions for League
• Do we determine goals and choose
activities without any consideration for
whether another age group is also
involved in some way?
Questions for League
• Do we confuse changes in
volunteering with the demise of
Other Thoughts
• Meeting in the middle
• Different isn’t wrong
• Focus on similarities and strengths
Special Thanks to:
• “PART TWO: Managing Event Volunteers
Across Generations” by Florence May
• “Bridging the Generation Gap” Workplace
Learning and Performance: Building the Skills
for Your Success facilitated by Deborah Laurel
for the South Central Library System, Laurel
and Associates, Ltd.
• “Understanding the Different Cultures of
Different Generations” by Peter Brinckerhoff,
the Bridgespan Group
Special Thanks to:
• “The Volunteer Generation Gap” by Susan J.
• Generations at Work, by Ron Zemke, Claire
Raines, and Bob Filipczak. (New York:
AMACOM, 2000) pp. 63-91

Bridging the Gap - League of Women Voters