Management of Volunteer Activities among Elderly Persons
Purpose: Volunteer activities in Japan may be expected to result in a variety of effects on health conditions and social contributions of the elderly depending on the degree of their activity participation. This study aims to identify differences in the health conditions and social contributions of the elderly in relation to the degree of volunteer activity participation, and determine what effective support can be provided for these elderly persons. Further, focusing on the differences in the level of activity of the elderly persons in volunteer activities, we discuss the effect of management through SWOT analysis from the perspectives suggested by the Balanced Scorecard (BSC), which is a performance management tool. Participants and Methods: The participants are elderly persons participating in volunteer activities, living in municipal housing owned by the Kumamoto prefecture in Japan. We classified the participants into an active group who contributed to the raising of funds for activities, and a non-active group. We conducted group interviews with the volunteers, organized interview data on the thoughts of the two groups according to the five perspectives of the balanced score card (BSC) management tool: (1)learning and development, (2) participants, (3) financialmatters, (4) process of conducting activities, and (5) socialcontributions, and conducted a Strength-Weakness-Opportunity-Threat (SWOT) analysis. In the SWOT analysis internal factorsare distinguished into strengths and weaknesses, and externalfactors into opportunities and threats. Combining the internaland external factors, problems were extracted from theperspective of a positive strategy (S+O: strength + opportunity),a differentiation strategy (S+T: strength L threat), a stepwisestrategy (W+O: weakness + opportunity), and a defensivestrategy (W+T: weakness + threat). Then, we confirmed the mainresults by identifying the major factors in success to achievesalient aims, activity goals, and specific measures from the fiveperspectives provided by the BSC. Results: When comparing thestrengths of the two groups, the active group showed the following characteristics in the information collecting: more variety in the collected information (perspective of learning and development), ease of obtaining information of potential volunteers (perspective of participants), knowledge of how to raise funds (perspective of financial matters), and being physically more active and knowledgeable of the local community (perspective of social contributions).From the perspective of the process of conducting activities, both groups place importance on the relations among people. For weaknesses, and from the perspective of learning and development, the active group had difficulty in maintaining their motivation, and from the perspective of financial matters this group had difficulties in securing funds. From the perspective of social contributions, the non-active group depended on the active members. From the perspective of participants, both groups experienced a decline in physical function with age, and from the perspective of the process of activities there was a possibility that family or individual circumstances make it difficult to participate in all activities. In the SWOT analysis, combining the internal and external factors, we evaluated the directionality of volunteer activities from the five perspectives of the BSC. From the perspective of learning and development, regardless of the differences in the level of activity of the elderly persons in the volunteer activities, the volunteer members conducted a signature-collecting campaign to call for continuing volunteer activities for residents among those in their surroundings, and this made it possible to continue volunteer activities. From the perspective of the process of conducting activities, regardless of the differences in the level of activity of the elderly persons in the volunteer activities, the volunteer members became active in making remarks, and started to assume roles voluntarily. From the perspective of financial matters, the volunteer members were able to obtain donations for volunteer activities from neighboring establishments, as well as financial support from the social welfare council, by applying for subsidies for activities. From the perspective of participants, the number of new members increased through word of mouth spread by the existing membership. From the perspective of social cost, there was a remark that “I would like my schedule to be full of enjoyable events so that I become too busy to go to the hospital”, and in fact some members did reduce the frequency of hospital visits.