Refugees From the Private Sector

Much ado has been made about baby boomers' late life career choices. Today's Oregonian had an article about the trend of baby boomers leaving lucrative private sector jobs for the nonprofit sector.

Here are a couple of thoughts on this phenomenon:

*It's interesting to think of the potential generational dynamics at play in a workplace with experienced (but not in the non-profit sector) boomers and younger staff who are making a career of nonprofit work. This is in part due to the increasing professionalism of the sector, with nonprofit management academic offerings becoming much more commonplace. The Oregonian article mentions the younger boss/older employee situation, which can be awkward for both parties. Much has been written lately about navigating generational divides in the workplace, like this recent Fortune article.

*As one of those younger nonprofit careerists, I am excited to think about refugees from the private sector bringing their experience to bear in the nonprofit world, which has much to glean from the business world. Think of all the ways we are a decade behind: email (!) communications, to say nothing of social networking and online experience; customer/constituent relationship management; data mining; measuring outcomes to increase accountability, and more. Then again, it's kind of like the old saying about Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire: those of us who've been in the nonprofit sector have been "dancing backwards and in heels" for a long time now. Anyone migrating into the nonprofit sector must get used to accomplishing work with a fraction of the staff and budget available in an analogous corporate setting.