Perhaps you are familiar with the expression “wisdom comes with age?” As we move through life we accumulate a wealth of knowledge through our experiences. Perhaps too, you are committed to the principles of lifelong learning, committed to education and expanding your mind whether in the classroom or through exploring new hobbies, interests or through community involvement. As an EngAger, you’ve always been active, engaged and dedicated to your career, your family and to life and now that you’re someone whose a little more mature, having gained wisdom along the way, what do you do with all that energy and experience? You have a gift to share with the world and the time is now!
Be The Lighthouse
It’s time to share your knowledge and experience. There are so many opportunities to get involved with your community and you have much to offer. Often we think of volunteering as a “one stop” chance to do some good – what comes to mind is helping out at your local food bank either packing food hampers or serving a hot meal to persons in need of some warmth and comfort. This is indeed a fabulous way to be a shining light for others and thank you! However, have you also considered that the meal you helped serve is the front-facing component of a much larger organizational effort to support persons experiencing homelessness? There are many people working hard behind the scenes to explore new and innovative ways to not only bring comfort but also provide the tools and supports necessary to get back on their feet. Your business background and life experiences will offer valuable insights at such an organizations board table. Both types of volunteering are critical and help your community and allow you to be a lighthouse in your community.
Non-Profit and Charitable Boards Need You
That last sentence above calls to mind so many other opportunities for you to get EngAged and share your wisdom. WHO, the World Health Organization has declared 2021-2030 as the Decade of Healthy Aging and it’s not just referring to how you maintain and manage a healthy lifestyle but also how you share your skill sets with the world around you and have a meaningful impact on the lives of others in the community where you live, work and play. Whatever your skills and experience there is a place for you at the Board table. Consider these examples:
- Planning for the financial needs of the future: Put your business acumen to the test supporting a volunteer agency that needs your specific expertise in budgeting, financial projections for future need, augmenting or updating their financial reporting systems to meet donor oversight requirements or implementing a new payroll software that will better help that non profit manage expenses and meet government funded reporting standards. Financial oversight for non-profits is particularly challenging as so much of their funding comes from government sources and community donors, both requiring very specific tracking and documentation. Accountants, financial planners, investors, this is an area in which your expertise is desperately needed.
- Grant Writing and Community messaging: Are you a former teacher, a writer or perhaps a social media expert or website designer? Marshall McLuhan once wrote, “The medium is the message.” Loosely interpreted, what Marshall was referring to was the concept that how we communicate – the method we use to communicate with the world around us – is AS important as the message itself and in today’s tech-savvy world, his theory has perhaps never been truer. If you have excellent writing and grammar skills, are good at crafting compelling messaging and know your way around a keyboard and computer code, charitable boards can use your knowledge, skills and experience to support their efforts.
- Fundraising drives and Community pledges: We’re speaking to you marketing and advertising executives! Remember that food bank we used as an example in a previous paragraph? How do they get donations of food to replenish their supplies? How do they encourage people to donate their time, donate food, or donate their expertise? They use a variety of means including fundraising drives and ongoing community pledges, “Coldest Night of the Year” walks and more. Your skills in attracting and retaining the attention of donors and community members are a valuable asset to any organization. If you haven’t already given this some thought – reach out to a local organization doing the kind of work you believe in and who could use your experience.
Municipal Politics – Shaping Your Community for Future Generations
This is the “Big One,” an enormous opportunity to give back to your community and share your skills and experience with a broader audience and have a greater impact not just now but for generations to come.
- Municipal politics is where many a career politician first enters into the political forum but it is also, at its core, a grassroots entry-level opportunity for novice politicians who have both business and life experiences to bring those skills to the council chamber.
- Who better to help shape and form the future of the community you have lived and worked in your entire life and perhaps now plan to retire in as well? Have your say in what healthy and active aging looks like in your community. Help your local library (funded through municipal taxes) to make policy decisions that make the library a safe and engaging space for mature adults like you as well as for teens and young adults.
- Is transit a concern in your town? Roads inadequate to meet rising population numbers? Maybe you’ve even worked in engineering, planning and design or HR and people services? Whatever your background and experience, getting involved in municipal politics requires no “party allegiances” because the big picture at the local level is about helping a community to thrive. Put your skills to work and get paid for doing it! Talk about “EngAging!”
If you have wisdom earned through hard work, education and experience; the kind of wisdom that comes from achieving “a certain age,” and you’re not quite ready to sit in a rocker all day – (Seriously – who is?) now is your time to shine. Volunteering, guiding municipal policy, sitting at the Board table – these are all incredibly valuable opportunities for you to share your gifts with the community. Be the lighthouse for others and get “EngAged” by putting your wisdom back to work!