The 5th Quarter: What to Do After Your Nonprofit Career
In my Dec. 4, 2015 blog, titled “The Four-Quarter Career View,” I noted that each quarter of one’s career is focused differently. The key note for each career quarter (10 years of career service per quarter) is as follows:
- First Quarter: Exploration—You are learning where you want to go
- Second Quarter: Examination—You determine your passion and field of focus for fundraising
- Third Quarter: Maximization—You have mastered your area of focus and are giving back to the field
- Fourth Quarter: Transformation—You are the expert in your field, providing consulting advice and transitioning toward retirement
My four-quarter blog came into focus recently when I made a presentation to a large church men’s club on a chilly Saturday morning. I was invited as their breakfast speaker. As I was speaking, many individuals, now retired, were describing their retirement nonprofit volunteer adventures. It immediately occurred to me that we all have the opportunity to have a fifth quarter of service to nonprofits, and this tenure could last at least two decades or more.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 52.4 million people age 60 or older in the U.S. By 2030, one in five Americans will be 60 or older. More than 23 percent of people older than 65 currently engage in a volunteer activity.
In an article for HowStuffWorks, author Beth Brindle noted that the term "retirement" has changed from seniors sitting in rocking chairs to seniors devoting time to causes and interests they're passionate about. With the first wave of Baby Boomers turning 65 in 2011, many charities are now actively looking for senior volunteers.
According to Brindle, the best volunteer activities in retirement are:
- Humane societies and animal shelters: Volunteers can care for animals, etc.
- Legal advocacy: Legal volunteers may be called upon to advocate for foster children, etc.
- Political campaigns: Doing a variety of tasks to promote candidates or causes, etc.
- Docent or tour guide: Doing tasks to lead tours, drive vehicles, direct seminars, etc.
- Disaster relief: Trained volunteers provide assistance to those in need across the world, etc.
- Hunger relief: Serve organizations like Meals on Wheels and local food banks, etc.
- Volunteer vacations: Traveling around the world to teach or provide health services, etc.
- Working with children: Working with organizations like the Senior Corps Grandparent program, etc.
- Helping troops, military families and veterans: Volunteering for the USO and like organizations, etc.
- Habitat for humanity: Assist this organization on house build sites and various neighborhoods, etc.
Retirees who do not want to volunteer because of physical requirements can certainly use mental skills by serving on nonprofit boards. Sean McComber, writing for RetireWOW, noted that retirees should do their homework first and research local nonprofits. When you find three to five that inspire you, he says, volunteer for them.
Once you volunteer for the nonprofit, you can determine if you would ultimately be interested in serving on its board. Note what areas of expertise are needed on these nonprofit boards and if you are a fit to serve based upon your needed expertise. If board service does not interest you, check out sites like Retired Brains, which provides a long, alphabetized list of volunteer opportunities for retired individuals.
Finally, if you are retired but want to work instead of volunteering, Christopher Farrell, writing for The New York Times, notes that from 2007 to 2012, nonprofit employment increased every year, from 10.5 million to 11.4 million jobs. And some of those jobs are going to retirees from the corporate sector. "Here is a safe bet," writes Farrell. "The Baby Boomers making the transition from business into nonprofit careers are carving a work path that will become ever easier for those behind them to follow."
The number of people older than 65 continues to grow, and many future retirees will not sit at home. Many of these individuals will choose to either volunteer or work for nonprofits in the future. Going forward, your career game will not be over after four quarters. Indeed, the fifth career quarter is alive and well. In truth, as a reflection, this career quarter could prove to be one’s most fruitful career experience of all.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last nine years and has had the CFRE designation for the last 25 years. He has also been a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals for over 35 years. He received his doctorate from West Virginia University with an emphasis in philanthropy, masters from Marshall University with an emphasis on resource development and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with emphasis in marketing/management. Currently he is executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org.