Build capacity with encore talent

Printer-friendly version

We hear quite a lot about Millennials but the growing population of 50+ adults who are enthusiastic about deploying their talents for social good offers a robust new talent pool for building nonprofit capacity. Increased longevity and continued good health mean that many in this educated, experienced generation have a lot to offer charitable nonprofits through skilled volunteer work or staff roles. The challenge for many nonprofits, however, is how to find those talented folks and integrate them into a nonprofit’s talent pool?

Encore Talent Works is a new interactive toolkit that can help nonprofits of all sizes connect with and understand the positive results of engaging experienced adults in skill-based roles. It offers practical advice to get started, recruit, assess transferable skills and engage encore talent. Encore Talent Works offers a solution for connecting with talent that may not rise up through the usual recruitment pathways. It also documents plenty of good reasons why nonprofits that haven’t considered tapping the pool of 50+ adults should take another look at what “encore talent” offers.

Guest Author Betsy Werley, Director, Network Expansion, Encore.orgAlmost ¾ (73%) of encore talent engagements in a recent study resulted in contributions of new ideas, approaches, or tools for nonprofits that otherwise would not have had access to those resources. The same study documented that 52% of the engagements helped a nonprofit increase its visibility with grantmakers/donors, and almost half (49%) helped reduce operating costs or improve service delivery. Not only are encore talent workers impacting the financial bottom line of the nonprofits but whether as volunteers or paid staff they also bring their lifelong experiences in mentoring, coaching, building relationships, and teaching others to their nonprofit workplaces.

Denver-based Project Shine Volunteer Coordinator Brandy Kramer summed up the opportunity for his nonprofit, saying, “You’re doing your organization a disservice if you don’t invest time in recruiting boomers . . .They have great experience, knowledge and networks that will help you accomplish a lot more than you could without them.”

Consider Greg Betley, a 50+ tech veteran who signed up with ReServe, which matches continuing professionals with stipended, part-time nonprofit roles. Greg was placed at St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children in Dorchester, Massachusetts – and quickly transformed the organization’s computer capabilities. A year later, President Deirdre Houtmeyers said, “We’re in a completely different place. . .  Greg has had an unbelievable impact.”

Thousands of Greg Betleys are using their experience in encore roles. Many, like Greg, transition from the for-profit sector, bringing valuable experience in marketing, finance, HR, operations, compliance or program leadership. Others move into encores from nonprofit leadership, to take on high-impact positions that offer greater flexibility.  For people who engage with and manage encore talent, Encore Talent Works offers resources to identify transferable skills, reframe experience requirements, interview for culture fit and support sector-switchers in the onboarding process.

In addition, the toolkit spotlights success stories of encore employees and skilled volunteers in Impact Examples, and profiles real people who have made encore transitions in Encore People, like Ruth Sovronsky, a musician and lawyer who now leads the Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s development department, and Carol Struck, a retired school administrator who turned Phoenix-area social service agency Benevilla’s onsite café into a money-making community hub.

These success stories prove the value of encore talent. It’s a robust resource overlooked by too many nonprofits, hobbled by ageism and stereotyped concepts of experienced adults’ capabilities, and lacking clear models for how to find, develop and engage that group. Encore Talent Works addresses those issues directly, by busting myths and allowing users to zero in on the information and resources they need. It also offers a searchable map of local organizations working with experienced adults.

Ambitious goals and scarce resources are all too familiar for many charitable nonprofits. As your nonprofit is thinking of ways to increase its people resources, diversity and inclusiveness, don’t overlook encore talent! 

Find Your State Association of Nonprofits

Find Your State Association of Nonprofits

Connect with local resources and expertise


Connect With Us

1. Sign up for updates

Stay up-to-date with the latest nonprofit resources and trends by subscribing to our free e-newsletters.

2. Follow us on social media