Your organization probably engages encore talent in some capacity, as employees, consultants, board members or volunteers. Imagine ways to build on this success and expand impact. Here are possible roles to explore.

How Encore Workers Are Engaged

  • Paid employees 23% 23%
  • Pro bono or unpaid volunteers 28% 28%
  • Self-employed, demonstrating the growing 50+ entrepreneurial spirit 30% 30%

Types of Engagement

Employees: As full- or part-time employees, people 50+ possess the skills and experience that many social-enterprise organizations need. Some who previously worked in the social sector find new roles. Others transition from the for-profit sector. Some go full steam in full-time roles, while others prefer part-time work.

Consultants: A consultant generally serves as an expert advisor or works for a defined period of time (or on a specific project). Consultants offer specialized expertise not readily available within an organization. Consultants can be paid or unpaid (pro bono). Encore talent is often well-suited to the consultant role, which draws on years of experience and practical know-how.

Skills-Based Volunteers: Skills-based volunteers lend their skills, expertise and experience to nonprofits to build capacity.

Pro Bono Volunteers, a subset of skills-based volunteers, are professionals who volunteer their time for core operational projects (i.e., law, accounting, strategic planning, logistics, marketing, communications, IT). For the purposes of this toolkit, the terms skills-based and pro bono volunteers are used interchangeably.

Stipended Service, Volunteer and Other Roles: While most skills-based volunteers aren’t paid for their work, some encore volunteers receive relatively small stipends for their service. Stipends acknowledge the volunteer’s value and offset some expenses associated with volunteering (e.g., transportation). According to one study, stipends can increase diversity in the volunteer pool and reinforce volunteers’ commitment to the work. Stipended positions hold appeal for encore talent, as earnings augment post-career income and increase financial stability.

Social Entrepreneurs: According to a MetLife Foundation-funded study, many potential entrepreneurs ages 44-70 are not only interested in making a living, but also in making a positive social impact, with more than 12 million interested in tackling high-priority needs such as social services, poverty alleviation, at-risk youth, economic development, health care, the environment and social justice.

Board Members: Encore-stage talent, who bring extensive experience, connections, wisdom and passion, is well represented on many nonprofit boards. In a survey of nonprofit employers, A Conference Board survey found that 95 percent have people 50+ serving on their boards of directors.

Encore Talent on Boards

Bringing wisdom, experience and contacts

mayaMaya Nussbaum, Executive Director, Girls Write Now
“If you’re lucky enough to have an encore-age candidate who wants to share years of wisdom, experience, and contacts… strongly consider diversifying your board and deepening the experience for all involved.

Our encore-age board members include ground-breaking feminists, activists, journalists, editors and leaders at large. They embody the principles we instill in our girls: dedication to craft, determination to portray the lives of women and girls with honesty and brilliance, and commitment to fearless story telling. They have chaired key committees (board development, marketing and publicity to name a few), connected us to high-profile authors and speakers, written and secured articles on the organization, and advised on staff development, annual reports and strategic planning.”

Read more.

About the Talent


Entrepreneurship in the 50+ Population

Entrepreneurship is growing among older adults. In 2013, 23 percent of new entrepreneurs were between the ages of 55 and 65, according to a Kauffman Foundation report.

Sister Adele O’Sullivan, Founder and Medical Director, Circle the City

“The professional skills and expertise we have gained from the Encore Fellows of Experience Matters far exceed what we could afford to hire. We are grateful for the skilled talent they have connected us with at Circle the City.”


Hiring Consultants

Consultants are talent on demand – they bring skills and expertise to organizations without the formal structure of employment. A Nonprofit Quarterly article identified four primary consultant roles:

  • Additional help. When you need a project completed, but just don’t have the human resources.
  • Expert help. When you need someone with a specialized background to advise you.
  • Facilitation. When you need an unbiased person to help your organization move forward on an agenda.
  • Process consultant. When you need help reviewing how your organization is functioning and developing recommendations.