Don’t Let Your Skills Go To Waste

By Elaine Lum MacDonald

Retired professionals have a rich trove of knowledge—skills, insights, and connections—that can be leveraged for good use. The knowledge that each individual holds due to their unique experiences and wisdom gained through time is one of the most unactualized human assets we have. What if that underutilized knowledge could be transferred?

Think of how Vrbo has revolutionized the housing market and how Lyft has revolutionized underused cars. Isn’t knowledge an asset that could be repurposed, recycled, and regenerated? A sustainable resource that doesn’t get depleted?

Retired, or semi-retired professionals are in an excellent position to share their knowledge with social ventures around the world working on innovative solutions addressing the pressing challenges of our time. All organizations, for-profit business and nonprofits alike, face similar challenges including forecasting accuracy, strategic planning, managing growth, leveraging partnerships, building awareness, diversifying revenue streams, and more. Couldn’t experts from diverse industries and experiences lend a hand by sharing their knowledge?

The concept of skilled volunteerism isn’t new. Since the 1980s, Harvard Business School has been operating Community Partners programs in major markets designed to inspire its graduates to donate their management skills to support nonprofits. Taproot Foundation, another example, has been promoting the pro-bono movement among skilled professionals for 20 years.

And there’s a transformative effect “gifting knowledge” has on the giver––profoundly impacting volunteer business leaders. Some became motivated to join nonprofit boards, some became serial volunteers, and yes, some turned into new active donors or investors in impact. 

There’s no doubt “the giver becomes the receiver,” and the leader becomes more equipped with new personal experiences in navigating the complex waters of social and environmental impact having interacted with social venture leaders. There’s a true 360-degree knowledge exchange.

Seasoned professionals who want to create a better world can engage directly with social ventures to help solve their challenges. With the marketplace filled with so many organizations facilitating connections, it’s easy to dive in. And it just takes a few hours from the comfort of your home. Humanity surely benefits with deeper and diverse connections.

Here’s a list of leading organizations that connect business leaders with social ventures seeking new skills, insights, and connections:


Elaine Lum MacDonald is CEO of Knowledge Impact Network (KIN). She’s an experienced executive, board member, and advisor, with a track record of delivering breakthrough results. She is focused on empowering social enterprises succeed in their quests to create positive societal and environmental impact.

Throughout the “The Nuts and Bolts” section of this blog, we will introduce you to the practical needs in retirement. 

1 Comment

  1. says:

    Good article!

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