“Charity Begins at Home”: Informal Caring Barriers to Formal Volunteering Among Older People

Simone Pettigrew, Michelle Jongenelis, Ben Jackson, Robert U. Newton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Formal volunteering is an important economic and social activity. In many countries, prevalence of volunteering is decreasing overall, including among older people who constitute a major volunteering resource. This qualitative study explored reasons for non-volunteering among seniors, with a focus on those who attribute their non-volunteering to their existing helping commitments. Forty-nine Australian interviewees aged 60 + years described a range of social, psychological, and temporal factors that resulted in their prioritization of informal rather than formal volunteering activities. These factors are mapped onto a theoretical framework matrix, with social identity and social capital theories appearing to possess the most explanatory power. The findings suggest that programs designed to encourage formal volunteering among older people need to be implemented in a manner that recognizes that members of this group can hold many other responsibilities that limit their ability to participate, especially those assisting in the care of multiple generations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)921–931
Number of pages11
Issue number5
Early online date3 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


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