What Needs to Happen So More People Can Do Good for Others While Earning a Living?

In her encore career, Purpose Prize winner Lorraine Decker, right, teaches young people about finances.

By Richard Eisenberg

Is it really possible for somebody in their 50s or 60s to embark on an “encore career,” one that lets you earn income and make a social impact? Or do you need to be wealthy to be able to do it, since the new work would typically be at a nonprofit?

Those questions kept bubbling up at Encore 2013, the awe-inspiring conference I just attended in San Francisco, hosted by Encore.org, the nonprofit organization dedicated to second acts for the greater good.

“Last year, we were trying to introduce the encore idea,” said Marc Freedman, chief executive of Encore.org and the guy who coined the term “encore career.” “Now our goal is to make it more mainstream.”

Encore careers for the rest of us was a running theme at the conference, which assembled the movement's leaders and honored Encore.org’s 2012 Purpose Prize winners, men and women in their 60s who’ve made an impact on a major social problem. (You can read about these remarkable people in the blog post I wrote when they were announced last December.)

“One of the most important questions we’re facing is: Is this just something for dabbling do-gooders or is it for everyone?” said Paul Irving, an Encore.org board member and president of the Milken Institute in Santa Monica, Calif. “This must be something for everyone. It must be.”

I came away from the conference feeling that although midlife Americans of all income levels can have encore careers, four things need to happen to make the possibility more of a reality.

(Click here to read the rest of the article on Next Avenue, where it was originally published.)