I’ve been looking for opportunities to make a difference this morning. Pretending (or not) that there are great opportunites out there and I just need to find them. What I’m struck by is how boring websites and facebook pages for nonprofits truly are–I don’t mean the BigGuys with their direct streaming video and thousands of fans and twitter followers–I mean the local organizations that might really need your or my talents–where they really might make a huge difference! Now don’t get me wrong– they’re perfectly competent; they describe mission and services and opportunities to volunteer and donate,but they’re BORING. There’s nothing that compels me to act. And the bigger problem is they’re written for other nonprofit people, so there’s that capable administrative insider code going on, that frankly, I don’t need to learn for our first “date”. I wonder how many of these groups track who uses their webside and how. I wonder how many track outcomes. Now there’s a task!
I have a vision. It involves the thousands of talented and savvy federal women who are ready to or thinking about or who have recently retired from federal service. I’ve worked with these women and I’ve been amazed at their skills and perseverance and their ability to accomplish impossible goals for their agencies. As I talk with my friends who fit this description, I find they fall into two camps—those who yearn for the freedom to come and go as they wish, to pursue hobbies and do absolutely nothing if they so choose and those who feel some apprehension about ending their careers—who may feel like they’re about to fall off the edge of the earth.
What I’m not hearing much about are women who have a passion to create real change in their communities—whether through a paying job or through volunteer activity – and could now take the leap and actually make a quantifiable difference without all the limits of federal programming.
The media is full of stories about women executives from the private sector who dive in with both feet to post-retirement work to change the world and I can’t help but wonder where my federal sisters are.
I know from my own experience that it isn’t that we “checked the box.” It’s not work that’s finished! I can’t believe that federal service has stamped out our passions for the many causes that still need champions. Do we feel we have nothing more to offer? Have we become cynical about whether change is really possible? Are we just so burned out that we’re ready to escape to the lifestyle equivalent of white noise?
I’m really curious and I invite you to weigh in! What are you doing to change the world now that you’re out of the bureaucratic box? What am I missing here? What would it take for you to commit yourself to a cause that’s important to you for a day a week or more? What would you need to make that a worthwhile exchange for your time?