U3A in Australia and NZ: Capitalising on the cognitive resources of older volunteers

R. Swindell, K. Vassella, L. Morgan & T. Sayer

Abstract: Objective: To quantify and ascribe a dollar value to University of the Third Age (U3A) volunteerism in Australia and NZ. Method: Retired researchers and U3A leaders from both countries cooperated via the Internet to devise and manage a comprehensive survey of U3A activities in 2008. Results: *164 of 265 independent U3As in Australasia provided detailed counts of all activities carried out by their volunteers. *Australian U3As were supported by 871,000 volunteer hours in 2008. NZ U3As were supported by 69,000 volunteer hours in 2008. *A notional value of $20 per volunteer hour is rationalised. It values U3A volunteerism at $21 million for Australia and $1.9 million for NZ. Conclusion: Expert retirees who are engaged in meaningful voluntary activities in their U3As provide valuable in-kind contributions to the well-being of members and to the national economy.