Encore Motivations

What motivates encore-stage adults to volunteer? Often, it’s passion for a cause, leaving a legacy, impact, achieving results and the desire for lifelong learning (see Boomer Volunteer Engagement for more). Psychologist David McClelland identified three core needs: achievement, affiliation and power. Here’s how they can translate into volunteer position design (adapted from VolunteerMaine.org’s Motivational Analysis):

  • Achievement Focus: Motivated by goal achievement, performance improvement
    • Define project in terms of results and outcomes
    • Provide performance feedback
    • Provide challenging opportunities
    • Structure projects (timeline, goals, objectives)
    • Allow reasonable autonomy and control over work
    • Involve in decisions and planning
  • Affiliation Focus: Motivated by social interaction, relationships
    • Structure group or team engagements
    • Create a caring, supportive environment
    • Include them in projects and events
    • Facilitate workplace community/relationships
    • Nurture a supportive, caring environment
  • Power Focus: Motivated by having impact, driving change
    • Offer roles with significant, measurable impact
    • Include in planning and decision-making
    • Offer autonomy
    • Respect knowledge and experience
    • Tap to lead projects delivering demonstrable change

Position Description

From direct service to board membership, a well-constructed position description is important. It defines parameters and sets expectations. With it, you demonstrate your organization’s commitment to meaningful, high-impact, skills-based volunteer roles. General guidelines for writing a position description appear in the Describe the Work section of this toolkit.

For the encore demographic, the strongest position descriptions communicate social impact, meaningful engagement, learning and growth, autonomy and context (how the work supports the mission), according to Encore Boston Network’s position description checklist.

Pinellas County VIP Program Pinellas County, FL, relies on volunteers to enhance all aspects of the community. Flexible design and short- and long-term opportunities create a wide variety of roles. Volunteers can explore opportunities by interest area or work with staff to customize their roles, based on volunteer preferences.

Position Description Example

Encore Fellow, Value Schools. Los Angeles: This K-12 education choice nonprofit was seeking an encore fellow to work with the board and community resources to maximize support for programming. The position description invited encore-stage applicants by emphasizing:

  • Seasoned professional with 20+ years’ experience
  • Interest in a second act for the greater good
  • Well-defined role
  • Experience and motivation

See full position description from Social Venture Partners Los Angeles.

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Coming of Age’s Developing a Compelling 50+ Opportunity provides tools for needs assessment, volunteer engagement, writing a 50+ job opportunity and recruitment strategies.