Arizona Giving and Leading: Experience Matters

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Experience Matters is a Phoenix organization that connects retired adults with non-profit groups that can benefit from their talents. Experience Matters CEO Nora Hannah will talk about what Experience Matters has to offer.

Ted Simons: Tonight's edition of Arizona giving and leading looks at how older Arizonans are recycling their skills to help nonprofits. Experience matters, is a Phoenix organization that connects retired adults with nonprofit groups that can benefit from their talents. Experience matters CEO Nora Hannah is here to tell us more. Good to see you.

Nora Hannah: You, too.

Ted Simons: Let's get a better definition of experience matters. What is it?

Nora Hannah: Well, we're leveraging this sort of wave of baby boomers who are, many of whom are transitioning out of their primary careers. They now have 30 or 40 years before they are going to become really inactive, and they want to do something of value and purpose with their time. So, we connect them with nonprofits who need their skills and talents.

Ted Simons: Give us an example of a successful connection. How does, how does it work?

Nora Hannah: We spend a lot of time working with the nonprofits and helping them understand what the opportunity is and how they could take advantage of it. They are used to putting volunteers in traditional roles, you know, serving meals, or helping kids in schools. But, these folks have been doing H.R. and marketing and I.T. and they are ready to continue to do high level projects, so we start with the nonprofits, helping them understand the value of this. We have a whole talent bank of maybe 300, 400 people who have reached out to us and said, put me in. I want to help.

Ted Simons: Can it be difficult for a nonprofit to hire someone who is doing a bit more than answering the phones and could take charge in ways that maybe could make folks nervous?

Nora Hannah: You hit it right on the head. It can be kind of a fearful experience, what will this person think of me and my leadership, and how will the rest of my team respond? We do a lot of training on what the opportunity is, but also, how you integrate it successfully.

Ted Simons: And the impact of the baby boom generation, you are talking baby boomers with longer life-spans. How is that at play?

Nora Hannah: Well, I think that, in a couple of ways. One is just the sheer numbers, the demographics. There are more of us, and I think that you are probably in that.

Ted Simons: I am.

Nora Hannah: And there are more of us, but, we are the best educated demographic to, you know, ever go through the 50s and 60s, and we're the healthiest. So, the health outcomes, we can do a lot more than a couple of generations ago could do when we were -- when we are in our 60s.

Ted Simons: And we can be restless and the tension span can be short. Do you find you don't find folks who volunteer at the same place for a year, they want to jump around?

Nora Hannah: That's right. Most of the projects that we place people at are project-based, so it's, you know, a limited time, it's a project that has a beginning, a middle, and an end, and there is a defined outcome, and it is not just come and sign on for 20 years and we'll give you a pin for your service.

Ted Simons: Talk about the expectations that, that the folks who want to volunteer have, and the expectations that the nonprofits have.

Nora Hannah: Well, and I think that you make a great point because that's the job is to manage those expectations, and that's not easy sometimes. For the individuals, their biggest expectation is they want to know that they have made a difference. So, again, having a luncheon and honoring them is not usually what they want, and they want to see the impact. How many families did I save and how did you use my skills and change something in your organization. That's the biggest part of it there. They are really aligned with the mission. For the nonprofits, I think that the hardest part is the one that you talked about. Are you going to be open to, to input on your style? Are you going to, to allow people besides your, you know, your, your employees, to make decisions? So, that's the hard part.

Ted Simons: And are we seeing businesses getting involved, as well as nonprofits in these kinds of things?

Nora Hannah: That's been the best part, I think, particularly, what's given us a lot of momentum over the past couple of years, is, is, you know, this is where the talent pool is coming from, and name the business here, they are going to have a large population of baby boomers who are transitioning out, and they want to make sure that's done well. So we just, on a very large partnership with Intel, and they have placed, I think last year, 60 of their retirees on what we call encore fellowships. They surveyed their retirees or employees and said, what are your concerns about retirement? Of course, number one was finances and health care. Number two is I don't know what I will do next. I've been doing there for 30 years. So, there is a nice year of transition, sort of an internship of maybe you would like to do something like this.

Ted Simons: And it brings back the idea of recruitment and how recruiting these folks has changed over time and again, with the restless baby boom generation. How has that changed?

Nora Hannah: I think the thing that's changed about recruiting different, I'll say, in nonprofits, you recruit for mission. In other words, do you really care about animals, children, education? That is more important than the skills you bring to the table, interestingly enough, so that's different from the business sector. The second thing about recruitment, which is aligned with the business sector, is a good cultural fit? You know? The kind of work environment that people are going to enjoy? Whether it's quiet or noisy or hectic, whatever those things are, so we try to work with all those pieces?

Ted Simons: And I guess, you try to work in finding out, does this person, would this person be a better fit for business or a nonprofit?

Nora Hannah: Yeah. Most of the people we have already made that decision that they want to get back. It's pretty common with this boomer generation, you know. We were change agents, and we grew up at a time when there was a lot of change going on in our country, whether it was women's rights or civil rights or the war movement. That sort of thing. So, everyone is accustomed to being very active.

Ted Simons: So, from your end, from what you are involved with and you see, what are your biggest challenges and what do you think that people need to realize?

Nora Hannah: Well. I think that there are several. One is making sure that nonprofits get onboard with this, so awareness among nonprofits about what this opportunity is and how they can leverage it.

Ted Simons: I have got to stop you there, nonprofits are not aware of this?

Nora Hannah: Well, yes. But I think they are accustomed to doing things from a certain way, so, from a resource perspective, nonprofits are, are accustomed to putting all their resources into programs. Even when you are giving to an organization, you want to make sure that your dollars are going towards, you know, the exact needs being served. What we fill is this huge gap that we call infrastructure. Any business has H.R., accounting, right, and marketing. Nonprofits tend not to put resources into that because it cost money, and they are putting their resources into programs. So, we're working with them to say boy, you really need to have a strong, healthy organization, and we can help you to bring people in who could do that for you. So, that's the education piece in terms of the nonprofits.

Ted Simons: And as far as other challenges?

Nora Hannah: Other challenges, we would like to have more business partners. You know, intel has been terrific. Freeport McMoran has done a big initiative with us around domestic violence, so we're going to be placing four encore fellows on issue-specific areas. So, we really see this as community building. That's going to take Government, business, and nonprofits to all come together.

Ted Simons: And experience matters, how long has it been around?

Nora Hannah: Five years. We're kind of new.

Ted Simons: And how did it get started? A quick history?

Nora Hannah: It got started under -- initiated by two major groups here in town. The Arizona community foundation and the Virginia G. piper charitable trust. They were investing in this whole future of boomers and the healthy outcomes for individuals. That's the other piece. When people -- when we retire and go home, typically you fall into poor health within a couple years unless you do something active, stay working, whatever that is. So, they were investing in this area and, and about five years ago, they pooled some resources and said, let's start an initiative that would be more of a coalition.

Ted Simons: So, with that in mind, the coalition is now five years of age, and if anyone is watching, a boomer is watching right now and says, this sounds kind of interesting, if a business or a nonprofit is watching, this looks interesting, how do they go in contact?

Nora Hannah: The website, generally, everything is done digitally. So experiencemattersaz.org and we have all the resources there on the website on how to communicate with us or apply for a position or a fellow.

Ted Simons: And there is information on what you need be to capable of applying?

Nora Hannah: Absolutely. Exactly so.

Ted Simons: It sounds like things are going well, and five years and running, and good luck to the future. Congratulations.

Nora Hannah: Thank you very much, Ted.

Nora Hannah:CEO, Experience Matters;

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