Do your clients want to volunteer in retirement? Here’s how to help.

You’ve done it. You’ve studied the numbers, listened intently and have set your client on a solid financial path toward retirement.  Your client is happy; you’re happy.

But then your client turns to you and says, “What I’d really like to do is volunteer in retirement. Do you know how I can do that?”

As their financial adviser, you can help your retiree clients identify meaningful volunteer opportunities. These experiences can ensure your valuable clients enjoy the benefits of a financially secure retirement–and your services–even more.

First, ask your client to consider four basic questions.

  1. What do you want to get out of the volunteer experience?  Volunteering should be a fulfilling, meaningful and enjoyable way to spend your golden years. But it could quickly turn into an exercise in drudgery if you’re not clear on what’s most important to you in a volunteer experience. So think about what your aims are. Do you want to meet new people? Learn new skills? Put your much-honed skills to the best use? Or maybe you’re just keen to help out a specific issue any way you can.
  2.  What kind of time commitment are you willing to make? Are you looking for a regular     commitment, or are you happy to be called upon at shorter notice? Would you be interested in specific project (say, helping a charity sort through an accounting challenge) or something that requires a longer term commitment like mentoring a young person over several years?
  3.  What sorts of skills do you want to bring to the experience? Are you a people person, always keen to draw someone out of their shell? Do you have specific skills that a charity could really use, like writing, graphic design or strategic planning? Write down what you’re happy to bring to the table.
  4.   Are you ready to let the charity drive the process? For someone moving from a high- powered position in the corporate world to a volunteer role in a charity, giving up control can be a real struggle. Ask yourself if you’re you happy to take on a specific task and do it the way the charity has asked. Charities can move slowly and generally have a range of stakeholders they’re accountable to. Are you going to get frustrated getting used to a new way of working?

Next, give some examples.

Now that your client has given some thought to the sort of volunteer experience he or she would like, talk through some options that are out there.

Sometimes just giving an example of a specific volunteer opportunity can make someone think, “Yes–that’s what I see myself doing!”

Here are some especially popular volunteer roles for retirees.

  • Be a mentor.

    Mentorship is a fantastic way to use a lifetime of experience to help someone enduring difficult circumstances. Many retirees choose to become a mentor because of the sense of fufilment that can come from building a trusting relationship with a younger person in their community.

The Grandmentors programme from Volunteering Matters matches people aged 50+ with a young person leaving the care system. Grandmentors receive training and support as they meet weekly with their mentee, building trust and hopefully becoming a positive role model in the young person’s life.

  • Serve as a trustee.

Charities are always looking for enthusiastic people with valuable skills to serve on their boards. Becoming a trustee can enable you to dive into the inner workings of an organisation, using your talents and your networks to guide the charity in its mission.

Here’s another situation where you’ll want to think hard about the amount of time you want to commit to your volunteer work, though, as being a trustee can become a part-time job. You’ll be expected to attend regular meetings, serve on committees and probably fundraise. Reach Volunteering hosts hundreds of trustee vacancies around the UK you can browse via their website.

  • Volunteer for a skills-based project.

If you’re keen to use the specific talents you developed throughout your career during retirement, skills-based volunteering might be for you.

A growing number of organisations are creating structured volunteer opportunities for people from a range of professions like medicine, corporate governance and finance. Engineers Without Borders UK, for example, offers people with a science and engineering background the opportunity to become ambassadors, delivering classroom workshops and inspiring the next generation of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) enthusiasts.

Similarly, Taproot Foundation works to connect volunteers with sought-after skills to charities seeking just that type of support. You can visit their site for opportunities to give intensive, short-term support to charities. Many of their projects can even be completed just via the phone or internet, meaning you could volunteer from home.

  • Work on the front lines for a local charity.

If you’re happy to leave your career skills behind and just want to roll up your sleeves for a good cause in your community, there’s plenty out there for you, too.

A terrific first point of contact is your local community foundation. These organisations know the local charity sector inside and out, and may be able to help you find the ideal opportunity. The East End Community Foundation in London is skilled at matching volunteers with unmet needs in the community. Their team recently introduced a self-proclaimed extrovert to a local charity serving low-income parents. The retiree now spends six hours a week acting as their front of house, coordinating other volunteers and meeting with the parents they serve.

  • Teach English abroad.

Volunteering overseas is appealing to many reaching retirement age. Sunny weather and the chance to immerse yourself in an entirely new culture can be alluring. Just remember that the last thing many developing countries need is an eager, but unskilled volunteer filling the role that could be held by a paid local.

A good option for those wishing to spend a portion of their retirement abroad is teaching English. Native English speakers are in demand around the world, and teaching English is a terrific way to get to know a culture and help its students compete in a global economy. If you’re serious about teaching abroad, consider getting a Teaching English as a Foreign Language qualification. The website tefl.org.uk offers online courses and a database of job openings for qualified teachers.

Finally, remember to ask about charitable giving.

Meaningful volunteer experiences and strategic charitable giving go hand-in-hand, especially during retirement. As you’re talking with your clients about how they might use their time and talents in their golden years, remember to ask them if they’d like to incorporate charitable giving into their retirement plans. Many times, it’s through intentional, well-researched giving that people find the most valuable volunteer experiences. For tips on starting the conversation, see Thoughtful Philanthropy’s guide to talking with clients about charitable giving.