Smart Charity Work for an Experienced Coach
September 27, 2011 5:21 AM   Subscribe

Looking for "smart charity" options for a senior, well-educated citizen with a big network.

A friend of mine is an almost 70 year old gentleman. He is very well educated, has many years of international experience in the area of personal coaching & training for executives, and a big professional network. He's very open-minded and not afraid to get his hands dirty.

Now he's looking for what he calls "smart charity work" - he would like to put his age and experience to good use, 1) to make the world a better place, and 2) to broaden his own horizon.

What could he do?
posted by lord_yo to Society & Culture (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Where I live, pretty much every small to medium non-profit desperately needs skilled and committed board members and volunteers who are willing to leverage their professional skills and networks for fundraising, outreach, and organizational development. This is true for every organization I have any overlap with -- none of them are sitting on huge bank accounts or are fully staffed; someone with real skills who is willing to work over the long term would be considered a gift from heaven.

But that's hard work, not very glamorous, and maybe not what he is looking for. I'm unclear what you mean by "smart charity work", other than that at the very local level it is usually pretty clear which organizations are doing good work, are well-connected, and are well-respected, and which are not.
posted by Forktine at 5:37 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Your friend could be me. I've been seeking something similar for a long time, but it's surprisingly difficult to find. Most volunteer positions are pretty dull, routine, passive and rote. Naturally, the exciting and responsible positions go to paid staff, as they should.
But I'm still looking and hope to get some good ideas from this thread.
So thanks from this corner too.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 6:07 AM on September 27, 2011

It sounds as though he's a good board member on paper. If he's willing to take his experience in coaching and training and transition it into fundraising and friendraising, any nonprofit would be lucky to have him. If he's truly open-minded, he could even train other board members on how to interact with their own networks for those purposes.

Some large nonprofits have committees of their boards; the managing board actually makes the decisions for the whole nonprofit, finance committee specifically looks at the numbers, development committee raises money, etc. If he starts at a nonprofit with one of those kinds of boards, he can easily join some committees to get a taste of how things are run and how he can help.

If he's like to go the board member route, I'd like to suggest that he not just show up on a nonprofit's doorstep and say, "Put me to work." That's actually not respectful; he'd be creating more work for them to have to come up with something to match him to. I'd like to suggest that he actually polish up the ol' resume, send it off snail-mail to a few chosen nonprofits he feels connected with, along with a letter of his intention to seek a board membership. Those who are interested can contact him, they may even set up an interview. He'll get an idea of whether it's a match, just like a job.
posted by juniperesque at 6:14 AM on September 27, 2011

Depending on his political views, he may make an excellent union organizer.
posted by elektrotechnicus at 7:37 AM on September 27, 2011

That kind of coaching and training he's done in the past is exactly the kind of thing that nonprofits can't afford to provide for their own staff. What if he started a pro bono program to help train non-profit executives in his area or facilitate board development retreats? He'll need to spend some time translating his skills to a non-profit application, but I suspect that would not take long.
posted by *s at 7:47 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Are you looking for specific recommendations of organizations? I'm a fan of charity:water.
posted by dfriedman at 8:12 AM on September 27, 2011

Check out Catchafire. They're a B-corporation that lets people give their skills instead of just hands and feet.

They started in NYC but look like they're expanding nationally and offer virtual projects and will be offering local projects in select cities. I actually know the founder and this is starting to take off and non-profits/charities love it! If you do some googling you should find some articles about them in Forbes, FastCompany, Entrepreneur etc.
posted by vlotty at 8:49 AM on September 27, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers! I am also looking for specific recommendation on causes he could invest himself in.
posted by lord_yo at 8:44 AM on September 28, 2011

I firmly believe equal access to quality education is perhaps *the* civil rights issue of this generation-- his energy and skills could always be used at Teach For America or its sister spin-off organization, Teach For All (focused on bringing Teach For America's model to other countries).
posted by vlotty at 8:25 PM on October 9, 2011

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