Guest post by Betsy Werley, Director of Network Expansion at

How can nonprofits use encore talent to build capacity?

“The resource squeeze . . . increasing needs in communities . . . governments shifting burdens to nonprofits” – these are some of the stresses on social-service organizations, according to the National Council of Nonprofits’ 2015 Nonprofit Trends to Watch.

Where can nonprofits find people with experience, energy and drive to help them meet those challenges?

The growing population of 50+ adults offers a robust new encore talent pool for building nonprofit capacity in strategic, operations and direct-service roles. Increased longevity and continued good health mean that many in this educated, experienced generation are eager to improve their communities through skilled volunteer work or staff roles.

Encore Talent Works, a new interactive toolkit, helps nonprofits of all sizes understand the potential impact of engaging experienced adults in skill-based roles. It offers practical advice to get started, recruit, assess transferable skills and engage encore talent. A new searchable map identifies encore programs across the US to make recruiting easier.

Created by and local organizations working with encore-stage adults, the toolkit gives hiring managers, volunteer managers and nonprofit executives resources to build capacity at their organizations. It capitalizes on decades of real-world experience engaging older adults in work that strengthens nonprofits and brings together resources from leading organizations, including Points of Light, the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Taproot Foundation and Volunteer Match.

Denver-based Project Shine Volunteer Coordinator Brandy Kramer summed up the opportunity, 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‘s Boston program, which matches continuing professionals with stipended, part-time nonprofit roles. Greg was placed at St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children – 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 in order 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. Such examples are 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, 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 a way of life for nonprofits. Encore Talent Works helps organizations enrich their teams with experienced, passionate people. We encourage you to share the toolkit with your friends and contact Betsy with any questions.

If you’re considering making the switch from the corporate world into nonprofit or social enterprise, join us for the Colorado Encore Network Meetup and learn how to successfully make the jump!