AZ Giving & Leading: Experience Matters

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Nora Hannah, the CEO for Experience Matters, explains how her nonprofit connects talented, age 50+ individuals with nonprofit and social service organizations to improve the quality of life in our community.

Ted Simons: "Arizona Horizon"'s continuing coverage of philanthropy in Arizona focuses tonight on group called "experience matters." It's a nonprofit that connects talented individuals, age 50 or more, with nonprofit and social service organizations that need their help. Earlier, I spoke with Nora Hannah, the CEO of "experience matters." Thank you for joining us tonight on "Arizona Horizon." Experience matters, what is the group designed to do.
Nora Hannah: We're a relatively new nonprofit. It has been around for three years, and we're leveraging this wave of baby boomers who are now trying to figure out what they want to do with these extra, maybe 30 bonus years that they have after traditional retirement.
Ted Simons: We hear a lot that boomers, changing the nature of retirement, changing the nature of this and that. And changing the nature of, of shifting careers, and volunteering later in life?
Nora Hannah: Certainly, I think, they are changing the nature of volunteerism. The, the generation that came before the baby boomers, the traditionalists, as they were called, really, really volunteered out of civic duty. And I find that the baby boomers, and this has been studied, want to do it because they want to make difference in the world. And they want to leave a legacy, and because they had careers, and they want to do it in a way that, that they operated in their business, which is very collaborative, team oriented, and have a say in that's what happening.
Ted Simons: So more than the right thing to do but it's a thing that for a lot of boomers, what I want to do but on my own terms.
Nora Hannah: That's absolutely true. And they really have a lot to give back, personally and financially. But they do want to do it bit on their own terms. In a way that, that is not only meaningful for the organization that they are working at but in a way that's personally meaningful to them.
Ted Simons: Back to your organization, what is -- who is involved with experience matters?
From participant or a funding perspective?
Ted Simons: Just from who runs the group and those things.
Nora Hannah: Um, so, we really look at our organization and what we do in sort of this image of a bow tie. We have supply and demand. And demand are the nonprofit, and Government organizations who need volunteers and services to, to achieve their mission. And the supply is the 1 million plus baby boomers that we have in maricopa county. So, we work bringing those two sides together, in a marketplace. Which is kind of the knot of the bow tie.
Ted Simons: And as far as the demand is concerned, what, what is demanded? What are the nonprofits and social services looking for?
Nora Hannah: That's a really good question because I think that, that has been the biggest challenge of our organization. We have found boomers seeking us out. We have had no issues recruiting talent to organizations. But finding organizations that can use baby boomers on those terms is a little more challenging. They bring skills that are very strategic, you know, like human resources, and technology, and process improvement, and most nonprofits don't yet have a system in place where they can engage volunteer talent on those high level projects so we work with them to, to help them.
Ted Simons: Is that different, though, in the past, let's say someone who is 50 plus, 20 years ago, says, I would like to volunteer with that organization. How is that, has that dynamic changed?
Nora Hannah: I think volunteer models in the past were very traditional in that you had volunteers doing more simple tasks. Answering the phone. Serving meals. Doing something that would not require a lot of skill or a lot of training. And generally, they did not participate very, at a very high level in the organization, and that model is changing, so at experience matters ourselves we bring in people who run projects for us for six months. And then they have leave the organization, but they lead the project for our organization, as a volunteer.
Ted Simons: That's interesting, so in the past you might have folks who would stay with the service or nonprofit for years on end doing maybe task that, that is more traditional, and now you have almost helicoptering of volunteers?
Nora Hannah: You know, that's true. The traditionalists would volunteer and they would be associated with one organization. For ten or 20 years, but the boomers like to pick and choose, do it for, for, you know, for three, six, nine months, and then they may go onto a different project is the a different organization.
Ted Simons: So, as far as what you see, the challenge of connecting folks over the age of 50 with nonprofits, what would be the biggest issue there?
Nora Hannah: I think getting everyone's expectations set appropriately. I think a lot of people, many are coming in from business careers, and there is the thought of, you know, nonprofits would do better if they could run more like business. And there is a little more to it than that. They need to do better job of listening and learning. And similarly, on the nonprofit side, they need to get overcome the fear of bringing someone at high levels and skilled and talented into nature organization and letting them participate, on peer level.
Ted Simons: If someone is watching right now, they are boomer, on the other side of life there, and now they think, you know, I have done that and I want to do this for a while. I would like to volunteer, and I have got maybe group in mind or maybe I don't have group in mind, where do they go?
Nora Hannah: Well, that's what we are here, for and we have a number of different ways that they can engage. We have workshops called explore your future. And that helps you figure out where would I like to participate? What is important to me? And a lot of people don't have that level of self-awareness about what are issues that inspire them. And we also offer ways to, to engage them from, from doing short-term projects to doing one-year fellowship, and we'll place you within an organization that uses your skills and talents.
Ted Simons: Interesting. And before we go, I know that Wednesday now you have an event with a speaker here, talk to us about the speaker, and the guest, and what the event is designed to do.
Nora Hannah: Perfect. Well, it is Wednesday night, and marci alboher, a "New York Times" journalist wrote something called "the encore handbook." It's about how to embark on your career, everything from finding the right organization to financing it to figuring out what's most important to you. She's doing her national book launch right here in Arizona so we're having an event that's open to the public. Who want to attend and hear what she has to say.
Ted Simons: Is there anything that you can tell us that she has to say, maybe an overriding principle how she sees this encore career development going?
Nora Hannah: I would say the overriding principle is to really understand what's important to you. And I think that a lot of us have, have not asked ourselves that question. We just pursued our careers because it was the next thing that we needed to do, and now you have this opportunity to do whatever you choose to do.
Ted Simons: Well, sounds fascinating, and good luck on Wednesday and good luck with experience matters. Sounds like you are doing good work. We appreciate it. It's been my pleasure. And as we mentioned, experience matters is hosting a discussion with marci alboher, the author of "the encore career handbook." She is launching a book tour in downtown Phoenix this Wednesday evening. Check online for more at

Nora Hannah:CEO, Experience Matters;

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