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Meet Generation Jones: The Potential Volunteers You May Be Missing

Generation Jones: (1) Twenty five percent of the U.S. population (2) Someone born between 1954-1965 (3) A practical idealist.

When I heard about Generation Jones a few months ago (in a discussion about demographics) I thought: (1) Who is that? And (2) What type of volunteering would they like to do?

Generation Jones is perfectly suited to family volunteering, according to popular culture expert and author Jonathan Pontell. Pontell first put forth his concept of Generation Jones in 1990, believing that the segment of the population born between 1954 and 1965 were not “Baby Boomers,” but part of a separate generation. Growing up in an atmosphere that created a strong desire to change the world, “Jonesers” entered adult life, in Pontell’s words, “with huge expectations” of a world of peace and love, and instead found a more materialistic time and sought financial security in the workplace.

Pontell believes that this generation that put their idealism on hold has achieved financial security and is rediscovering their idealism as they enter middle age.

As idealists with a “small I,” Jonesers are not looking to change the world but asking themselves how they can improve practical things. This group will not tackle global warming but will be enthusiastic about the projects in your agency that will make their neighborhood or community a better place for their family. This is the optimum time to recruit members of this generation because they are looking for opportunities to spend time with their families.

Pontell suggests that when creating your recruiting message that you tailor it to these segments of the media and concepts that appeal most to Jonesers:

  • The Internet: they get a greater proportion of their news here than anywhere else. Your agency’s website is a useful tool when recruiting this group.
  • Radio: their formats of choice are classic rock and news/talk. These formats help them reconnect with their youth and their political feelings.
  • Nostalgia: Jonesers are nostalgic for their teen years, so appeal to them with visual and auditory messages that will remind them of their teen years. Cultural references from 1973 to 1984 will appeal to them.
  • Identity: Jonesers may not even know they are Jonesers. Use the newness of Pontell’s concept to attract their attention and sell them on family volunteering.

After you have recruited your Jonesers, remember they are practical and want to see measurable results.

  • Create position descriptions that are specific in terms of responsibilities for all family members, especially time involved and anticipated outcomes.
  • Report regularly to them the results of their projects (tell them specifically how clients or the agency benefited in terms of quality of life or value added to the agency budget)
  • Send thank you notes and encourage clients of your agency who receive the benefits of their service to write thank you notes too.
  • Take photos of their activities and post them in your office and mail your Jonesers a copy too.

As they “crave the opportunity to volunteer as they look for meaning in life,” Generation Jones could be a new and vital part of your agency’s family volunteer program.

(For more information about Generation Jones, visit the website at www.generationjones.com)

 

About the Contributor: Susan Moscareillo

Susan Moscareillo is Director of Volunteer Services and Community Relations for the Baltimore Ronald McDonald House. Prior to beginning her work at BRMH, she was Director of Volunteer Services for the Maryland Society for Sight and Director of Public Relations and Fund Raising for Camp Fire Girls Council of the Chesapeake. Since 2002, she has been a member of the Contributors Panel for Volunteer Management Review at the Charity Channel on-line.

Before entering the nonprofit world, her work experience included television creative services writing and newspaper feature writing.

Susan has a degree in Mass Communications from Towson University, and a Certificate in Volunteer Management from Washington State University and a Certificate of Excellence in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the University of Wisconsin.

Susan is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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