As retirement beckons, you may be reluctant to leave the world of work completely behind. Sure, it will be great to take that round-the-world trip, or more trips to the park with your grandkids, but your work is a meaningful part of your life, and you want to stay in the game. The good news is that many retiring women are finding their second careers as rewarding as their first (or first three!) by taking their experience in the corporate world or the professions and bringing them to arts, charitable, and social organizations. A new career in nonprofits can be a great fit, whether you’re looking to retire, or staying in the workforce for a while longer.
One of the first things women facing retirement think of when they think nonprofit work is volunteering. And it’s true, becoming a volunteer is a popular option. If you’re no longer looking for income, and want to stay engaged with work, the large number and high flexibility of volunteer roles make them an attractive option. There’s a need for just about every type of role that you could be interested in, and nearly every type of job, from Director to Shop Manager, is available as a volunteer role somewhere in your community. The key to a fulfilling free stint is to identify organizations where you know you’ll be happy, with interesting work, great people, and a feeling of making an impact you believe in – in other words, it’s just like looking for a paid job.
What to think about when choosing a volunteer second career in nonprofits:
- Think about passions that your day job left untapped. If you’ve been itching to try creative work, volunteer to design posters for a local museum, or help install exhibitions. You will need some related qualifications for top roles at major nonprofits, even if they’re volunteer. But organizations are more flexible about what they consider related experience, and at more junior levels, they are happy to train a willing volunteer.
- Be realistic about the time commitment you’re willing to make. Being a board member or helping out once in a while may be a realistic amount of time, but on-site roles such as running a shop can become like a paid job. If you’re looking to travel, spend time with grandkids, or fix up the house in retirement, find a flexible role that allows you to fit your volunteer “job” in with your other personal goals.
- Look for opportunities to mentor. Bringing your experience to a nonprofit on a consulting basis can be a lot more beneficial to the organization than one more person stuffing envelopes. Training, helping map strategic plans, and fundraising are among the ways that seasoned professional women can make a major impact within an organization.
If you’re not heading into retirement yet, joining a nonprofit can still be a smart personal development move. Many senior executives are finding themselves priced out of the mainstream job market, with a high salary history and the reputation of being overqualified. These issues tend to disappear in the nonprofit sector. Dynamic leaders are in high demand, especially those with strong corporate track records. Though salaries are lower than in the corporate world, this is less of an issue for some executive women on the edge of retirement, who are more in need of a challenge than income. It that’s you, a move to the nonprofit sector can mean staying at your level, and benefiting a cause you believe in with the skills you gained running multimillion-dollar accounts. If early retirement is looking like your next move, and you aren’t relishing it, don’t neglect the nonprofit sector as an option.
As boomers retire in the millions, the nonprofit sector is looking to experience a renaissance as talent pours into organizations. Being a part of this revolution in talent can be a smart – and satisfying – move.
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