By: Bob Shaver

Why would a retired, for-profit, executive want to help out a non-profit? Don’t most retired executives come from BIG companies? How can their experience benefit small, or even BIG, non-profits?

At SCORE-Austin we get these questions all the time and I want to tell you how we answer them. I’m hoping that, through better communications and understanding, more SCORE-Austin volunteers and more Central Texas Nonprofits will benefit, mutually.

The “Why” question is the easiest, so I’ll start with it. And the answer is…Because we CAN (and it feels good when we do)! We were leaders, entrepreneurs, mentors… we have skills and knowledge that we can share to the benefit of others. We’re happy to lend any of our experience and knowledge and we are gratified when it helps. That applies whether we’re helping a “for-profit” entrepreneur, a non-profit start-up or a bigger on-going organization of either type. We can “Pay it Forward”!

Are we all just “BIG COMPANY” men and women? “No!” We come from the widest possible range of organizations, sizes, industries and functions. Many of us come from companies that saw “Community Involvement” as an integral part of their culture and success. Many of us were, and are, motivated by our personal desire to help others because we have succeeded ourselves.

Can our experience really benefit non-profits? Yes, our experience CAN be applied! Many Nonprofits don’t think of themselves as “a business”. In truth, whether they are providing a “product” as Lighthouse For the Blind, or Meals-On-Wheels, does or a “service” as Ronald McDonald House Charities do, Nonprofits face many of the same challenges that any “business” does. They need leaders, money, space, training, accounting, marketing, recruiting..the list goes on and on. Successful retired executives have dealt with all or, at least, many of these challenges and they’re successful, and retired, because they faced them and overcame them!

Non-profit employment represents about 10% of US employment or about 11MM people in 2010. It is the third-largest employment sector after retail and manufacturing. During the recent recession, Nonprofit employment grew at 2.1% a year vs. 0.0% growth in private sector jobs. There are, literally, HUNDREDS of Nonprofits in Central Texas with new one’s being formed every day because America is such a generous country. Tom Barton has begun a new initiative outreach to established non-profits through “I Live here, I Give here” and ACC. Steve Howard has already mentored a non-profit start-up in Killeen.

So, we ARE the right people to help, Our skills and experience are directly transferrable. When we see these nonprofit organizations improve their effectiveness, productivity, and their financial results, we will know we helped save the life of their “business”.

About The Author

Bob Shaver is a member of the SCORE-Austin chapter. A former executive at Xerox, Oracle, E&Y, Google and others, he is a Board member at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas.

SCORE Austin: Why we’re a great fit for Non-Profits