The Case for Hiring Older Nonprofit Professionals
As an older professional myself, I am blessed to collaborate with other older professionals in a variety of contexts. These professionals work extremely hard and give 100% each day. Their wisdom and experience are invaluable to any nonprofit organization. In my nonprofit alone, older professionals, which I define as 50 or older, are in key staff, board and volunteer roles.
They lead by example, and I enjoy collaborating with them. They are usually the first to work in the morning and last to leave in the evening. The commitment to the organization is amazing. When I consult, I talk to the older professionals first to get a true sense of any situation from a unique viewpoint. I can typically rely on older professionals as a lighthouse for the organization they serve.
In 2019, AARP found that twice as many Americans ages 65 and older in the workforce than there were in 1985. By 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the expected 164-million-person workforce will include 41 million people ages 55 or older, of which 13 million people will be ages 65 or older. Though that estimate was made prior to the pandemic — during which a large number of older Americans choose to retire — it is still believed those ages 65 or older will be the only age demographic to increase its presence in the workforce in the coming years.
Individuals with higher levels of education have more opportunities to remain in the workforce at older ages, AARP noted. College-educated people of retirement age grew from 25% in 1985 to 53% before the pandemic.
Employees are an especially important ingredient to a successful organization. Unfortunately, employers overlook valuable applicants because of age. Reasons employers should employ older workers are their experience, both professionally and personally, reliability with a strong work ethic, and cost-effectiveness since they tend to remain at the job longer.
Seasoned employees also have a great deal of confidence and experience. This attribute rubs off on younger workers. Age diversity is also wise, as major gift prospects, principal gift donors, volunteers and board members tend to be older. These segments relate very well with older employees.
According to U. S. News and World Report, and based upon a survey of employee benefits compiled by MetLife, organizations need to keep these 10 reasons in mind when considering hiring older people.
- They are happy.
- They are not going to jump ship.
- They are not as needy.
- They do not want their boss’ job.
- Their skills shortage may be overblown.
- They know what they want.
- They show up on time every day.
- They have few personal or family distractions.
- Benefits are not as crucial.
- Wisdom still counts for something.
So don’t overlook older candidates. These individuals tend to stay with organizations, which helps build long-term relationships with your nonprofit constituencies. They have life experiences they can share with their donors. They are enthusiastic and speak just like the individuals most likely to give to your organization. Be bold and hire someone older for a development position. This hire may be the best employee you have ever recruited. They certainly will be loyal to your nonprofit organization.
The average age of a donor in the United States is 64 years old and makes two charitable gifts a year, according to a 2018 Nonprofit Tech for Good study (opens as a pdf).
The case to hire older individuals at nonprofits should be easy to make. In this hiring climate, when it is hard to find quality candidates, do not forget older workers. In fact, in my work, I constantly interface with 60-somethings who “retired” from nonprofit positions only to be hired by another nonprofit.
These hires proved to be brilliant, as these older workers felt a renewed sense of passion, energy and spirit for a new cause. Training for these individuals is easy and learning is a two-way street. They hit the ground running and meaningful results are forthcoming. I rest my case.
Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of Duke Haddad and Associates LLC and is a freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO since 2008.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration plus a dissertation on donor characteristics. He received a master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis on public administration plus a thesis on annual fund analysis. He secured a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) with an emphasis on marketing/management. He has done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
Duke has received the Fundraising Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter. He also was given the Outstanding West Virginian Award, Kentucky Colonel Award and Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the governors of West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, respectively, for his many career contributions in the field of philanthropy. He has maintained a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation for three decades.