Nonprofit organizations as a stage for second-act careers

Here in the Triangle, the job-growth story is nothing short of spectacular. We all know why. This is a great place to live and work, with excellent schools and universities, and a pretty impressive track record for ground-breaking start-ups that become world leaders: SAS, RedHat, Quintiles (now Iqvia) and PPD, to name a few.

Those companies and others, like GSK, IBM and Fidelity, attracted a large number of newcomers here, many of whom set down roots and started families. Some eventually brought along extended family. Think about it. A 21-year old new college grad who joined Quintiles when it was founded in 1982 would be turning 60 this year. In other words, the Triangle is getting a little gray.

This is not an isolated issue. As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 55+ age group represents 30% of both the US and North Carolina population. In North Carolina, 13% of our population is 55-64 years old. Meanwhile, young adults between 19 and 25 represent just 9%. This is a significant portion of our population, and it will continue to grow – by 2030, according to the US Census Bureau, all Boomers will be 65 and older, meaning 1 in 5 Americans will be “retirement age.”

In addition to comprising a significant portion of our population, these late-career individuals represent something else: a vast body of experience. These were the first businesspeople to use email, spreadsheets and word processing software at work, and that was just the 1980’s. They welcomed the Blackberry and iPhone, as well as Windows and macOS. They helped build the internet as we know it today, recognizing the potential marketing power of the online universe.

And now, they are leaving the workforce in record numbers – but not all of them are ready to “retire” in the traditional way. In fact, it is estimated that 40% of retirees left the workplace before they planned (EBRI, 2019). In the same study, 80% of current employees indicate they plan to work for pay after retiring, and nearly 30% of current retirees indicate they are doing so.

A fair number of these early retirees aren’t interested in another corporate job. They also have modest expectations regarding compensation. Their real priority? A second-act career that engages them with purpose.

For nonprofit organizations, this is an opportunity: an affordable talent pool of experienced individuals interested in full-time, part-time or project work that makes a difference in their community. At LifeWork, we envision a culture where experience intersects with purpose to benefit all.

The LifeWork Collaborative Foundation works with Triangle-based companies and individuals to fill roles in the nonprofit sector with skilled, committed, experienced professionals who are stepping away from their corporate life. For our nonprofit partners, we review their open positions and present the best candidates. And we do this at no charge to the nonprofit organization or individuals.

One last thing to consider. A recent report from AARP speaks to the benefits of an age-diverse workforce, particularly in challenging times. Among them: a boost in productivity at the team level, as team members share learnings from earlier experiences that can help ignite new ideas and avoid repeating mistakes.

The LifeWork Collaborative Foundation is a 501c(3) nonprofit with a mission to connect highly experienced individuals with nonprofits, government agencies, educational institutions, religious institutions and other community groups looking to fill critical roles within their organizations. Steve Brechbiel, Regional Director, is based in Raleigh, North Carolina.