What to Do In Retirement? Ideas on How to Share Your Time and Talent

What to Do In Retirement

You’ve come a long way, baby! We’re living longer than ever – average life expectancy for women is now over 80 years, 81.3 to be exact. With ten thousand people turning 65 every day in this country, ‘seniors’ (those aged 55 or older) are approaching 30% (28.5) of the U.S. population.

This means that there are lots of us who have a tremendous talent to offer the world as we retire with lots of time left to offer it.

A new wave of initiatives have cropped up to address this skill-rich, growing demographic with potentially meaningful opportunities. The basic tenet is to match an individual with an organization that can put their skills to use, generally on a less-than-full-time basis to allow other time for typical retirement activities such as travel and time with grandkids.

These types of programs are a great way to bring meaning and purpose to fully or semi-retired individuals who many times need to fill the time and void left when they stop working.

There are many people in this situation who want a second act at the intersection of passion, purpose and perhaps a paycheck, even if not at the same level of pay as pre-retirement.

“It’s basically an internship for grown-ups”, says Marc Freedman, founder of which offers ‘fellowships’ for baby boomers to support nonprofit organizations.

These offerings of time and talent can take a couple forms:

  • Unskilled volunteering such as dog walking for the local animal shelter or stuffing envelopes for a fundraiser
  • Skilled work such as an accountant keeping the books for a nonprofit organization or an IT professional running a nonprofit’s database

The work can also be paid or unpaid:

  • Skilled and paid at the going market rate is essentially consulting
  • Skilled and paid but at a token rate (non-market rate) is commonly referred to as a ‘fellowship’
  • Skilled and totally unpaid is considered volunteering
  • Unskilled and unpaid workers are also volunteers
  • Unskilled and paid would be a unicorn … it would be very rare to find an unskilled worker being paid as this work is the sweet spot for volunteer work, letting nonprofits save money by not paying for this work.

Some programs are cropping up to engage this demographic in meaningful work.

  • Some programs are focused on mentoring either nonprofit or businesses for no remuneration, such as SCORE. SCORE chapters are located all over the U.S. (over 320 nationwide).
  • Others, such as concentrates on matching retirees with nonprofit organizations for nominal pay but on a part-time basis and for a set period of time, usually one year. The Encore network is sprinkled around the U.S. and overseas though not in every state.
  • ReServe also matches professionals with nonprofit opportunities with a high degree of flexibility in the work and timing and operate nationwide.
  • Age of No Retirement is a UK based organization focused on creating a world where age does not define us and shattering age related barriers and ageist stereotypes. It also provides some outlets for action.
  • For the guys, Men’s Sheds was recently publicized in the Washington Post and is an international program, started in Australia, which brings men together for friendship and productive, hands-on work. Share this with your guy friends.

As one example, sisters Tina Pennington and Mandy Williams teach financial management to high school students and prison inmates. Or another example, Ashok Desai, previously with Cisco and Sun Microsystems, who now works with the economically-disadvantages and seniors.

What a great way to use your post-retirement time and talent to make a meaningful contribution to your community!

For more ideas and help in planning your transition, take a look at our Second Acts program. It offers you a safe place to reinvent yourself, to collaborate, provide support to change and update skill sets, and the opportunity to be inspired by other powerful women


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