baby boomersHere’s news for you if you’re a nonprofit leader. Baby Boomers are not quitting. Some want to replenish their finances after the financial downturn. Others understand we live at a vibrant time of social good. Boomers want to earn money and give back. A job in the nonprofit sector makes a lot of sense.

A few days ago I got a call from an old buddy of mine who was transitioning into the nonprofit sector. I thought he was going to retire, but he said he was taking a job with a small health organization on the east coast. I congratulated him and he joked around about having to work for the rest of his life.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the nonprofit sector grew between 2007 and 2012. Let’s remember our economy imploded in 2008. Even including that difficult time, employment increased by 8.5 percent in the nonprofit industry. Wages also rose. The private sector contracted during the same period by 3 percent. 

It makes a lot of sense for nonprofit boards and leaders to look at Boomers who are transitioning out of the corporate world to join their organization. There are a number of good reasons to consider a seasoned professional.

  • Corporate America understands it has to strategically incorporate meaningful CSR into their businesses. That means executives who volunteer at nonprofits are aware and active regarding social impact. These executives also know the importance of being engaged with their communities through nonprofits.
  • I’ve said it a lot in my books. The philanthropic landscape is changing. It’s not what it used to be. Generally speaking, nonprofits operated in their own world. For-profits were in another world. Today, that dynamic is quickly shifting to a more coordinated back and forth between the two. All you have to do is take a look at social enterprises, for example. You see the marriage of profit and social impact. You can also look at “philanthrocapitalism,” which is the desire by philanthropists to find market-based solutions to societal issues. There’s been a shift in discussion and there’s more of a discussion happening.
  • As a society, we’re living longer. We’re also healthier and Boomers are leading the charge in redefining what it means to get older. It used to be that society defined “old age” as approximately 60-65. I think if you said that today, you’d get a chorus in the room telling you you’re dead wrong. As a matter of fact, a study found that Americans believed “old age” began at 80. In other words, you might get your Social Security check in your early 60’s, but that’s not old age.

There are a few key reasons your nonprofit may want to consider hiring a Boomer.

  1. If they’re seasoned professionals, they probably have a lot of experience to give. As a matter of fact, many upstart organizations, including Google and Facebook have had seasoned business people come on board to help the young innovators when they were young organizations.
  1. Older workers typically give instant credibility. Although the world seems to be focused always on the new, young and cool generation (currently the Millennials, but soon to be supplanted by Generation Z), having older employees on your team does help outsiders know that you have people on board who’ve “been there and done that.”
  1. If you walk through my office, you’re going to see diversity. I’m very proud of that, but I also believe it’s a smart business decision. I want to know what men, women, old and young people think. A diverse team brings me much better ideas and a broader view of making our work better.


Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: Grip & Rip Leadership for Social Impact” (Free Digital Download)

© 2016 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.