Think about what encore talent can help you achieve. Be concrete about your goals; define outcomes and work backwards, with the end in mind.

Make a Plan

Before you launch a project, make sure you’ve structured it for success. The following preparation steps are adapted from Common Impact’s Skilled-Volunteering 101: Is Your Organization Ready to Engage?

Planning Steps

  • Set goals. Goals need to be concrete enough to provide clear direction, but flexible enough to permit fine-tuning along the way.
  • Identify specific deliverables. What end product do you expect? Spell out your desired outcomes.
  • Decide who will manage the work – and the encore worker. Identify a supervisor who will have ongoing contact with the encore employee, consultant or volunteer.
  • Define your budget. What funds are available? What other resources will you need?
  • Develop an action plan. Break the project or job down to the tasks that need to be completed.
  • Define your timeframe. When does the work need to be completed?
  • Define measures of success. How will you know when you’ve reached your goal? How will your organization measure success and impact?

Define Qualifications

What characteristics are needed to get the work done – what knowledge, skills and abilities? Define what is needed to be successful. To expand your candidate pool, think creatively about the work/life experience that could help an individual develop those qualifications; more candidates come from the for-profit and government sectors than from the nonprofit sector.

Think Broadly about Experience

Skilled volunteer roles require experience that can be gained in many ways – through employment or volunteering. Write position descriptions that focus on functional expertise rather nonprofit job categories.

Consider Transferable Skills

Keep in mind that skills developed in one field often transfer to another. Salespeople bring the same kinds of skills as fundraisers: cultivating relationships, telling compelling stories and closing “deals.” Human-resource professionals understand how to recruit, engage and manage employees and volunteers. Grant-writing requires research and writing skills – skill sets also found in business-development professionals.

Encore Talent in Action

Transferring Skills: Private to Public Sector

From consumer credit executive to customer satisfaction volunteer

rhodaRhoda Henderson Fields, Volunteer, Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB), Office of Organizational Performance Management, State of Michigan: Working as a volunteer, she brought a private-sector perspective to DTMB’s first customer survey, including a more efficient data collection process and a view of fellow state agencies as customers for the results.  


Fran WresinkiFran Wresinski, Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget: “Rhoda was an invaluable member of the DTMB Customer Survey team and has become an integral part of the OPM team…Rhoda approached the project and staff with genuine concern and professionalism, blending her private-sector experience into the public-sector environment. She offered a new perspective in many areas and complemented the project in every interaction.” 

Read more.

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Preparation and Principles


These skills easily transfer to nonprofit roles:

  • Sales and marketing > development/fundraising
  • Public relations > community outreach
  • Business development program development
  • Supply chain management logistics

For more ideas revisit How You Benefit: Transferable Skills