Second-Act Careers: Transforming Career Skills Into Nonprofit Passion

Ready to retire and curious about what’s next? Second-act careers can offer a powerful opportunity to give your professional skills a new life in service of others.

Outside the confines of a typical 9-to-5 occupation, the skills you’ve honed over the years can be put to work in the nonprofit sector to help a charitable endeavor further its mission while fueling your passion to serve. Whether you’re a public relations pro, a human resources expert or savvy with numbers, there’s no shortage of organizations where your professional skills can be put to good use.

Here’s a look at a few ways your workplace skills could benefit others and continue to fulfill you during your retirement years.

Translating Skills

Think of a second-act career as your chance to “upcycle” your skills. For example, a human resources professional could use their lifetime of expertise to assist a local animal shelter with volunteer scheduling. An accountant could assist a youth organization with its bookkeeping. Public relations pros could provide just the spark an upstart nonprofit needs to get the word out about an upcoming fundraising event.

Whatever you do, there’s a translation for those skills. And success rates are on your side for an effective transition. According to a report by the American Institute of Economic Research, 82 percent of people over age 45 successfully transitioned into a new career. Not too shabby!

A great place to begin is to articulate what it is you know how to do and how those skills could benefit others. This can be as simple as a conversation with coworkers or family members over a meal. Ask others what they feel you’re good at and how they see your skills going beyond the title on your business card.

Connecting Passion to Skills

Next, it’s time to connect your know-how with an organization that needs you. Second-act careers are all about finding joy and purpose. The last thing you want is to trade one daily grind for another. If you’re currently active with nonprofits, don’t be afraid to start a conversation with key personnel about your upcoming retirement and your desire to translate your professional skills into something that supports both your passion and the nonprofit’s purpose.

If life has kept you from volunteering as much as you might have liked, try making a short list of causes you’ve donated to in the past. This will help you hone your search for organizations already near and dear to your heart so you can reach out and begin conversations about how your skills could be put to use.

Assessing Your Impact

Now that you’ve taken the time to translate your skills and identify nonprofits that would benefit from them, one last step for those seeking second-act careers is to assess your impact. If you’re a career journalist who’s made the switch to tutoring at a local education advocacy program, you might see the impact of your work in front of you every day in the eyes of a student. But a former marketing executive might want to schedule a check-in with their preferred nonprofit a few times a year to talk about how the organization measures their impact and where they could lend greater value in the months and years to come.

Lastly, don’t forget to pay attention to the impact that your volunteer work is having on your life. A second-act career is your opportunity to reimagine your life, so make sure you’re enjoying the way you’re spending your time. It’s never too late to make adjustments or try something new.

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