More than half of Americans now retire between 61 and 65 and almost 20 % earlier than that.

Even for those feeling healthy and energetic after 50, 60, 70 or 80, the “R” word – retirement – is still around the corner. There are many stereotypes of retirement – the three Gs of the previous generation – golf, gardening and God or grandkids – but for most Baby Boomers and Generation Xers those activities could feel a bit empty.  

For the generations traditionally concerned with civil rights, poverty, hunger, the environment, climate change, education, immigration, health, income and gender equality, retirement will likely have to include socially conscious activities. Few want their retirement “giving” to be limited to greeting people at the senior center.

In “Golden Giving –  Everything You Need to Know for an Enriched, Socially Conscious Retirement,” Vasudevan Rajaram, along with contributors Keith Olsen and Andrea Groner, explores how Boomers can keep their inclinations toward social justice in their retirement years.

Topics include taking care of oneself first, defining goals for philanthropy, navigating local and international giving, identifying effective non-profit organizations and encouraging others to raise funds.

Certainly helping fellow humans, whether through religious groups or out of social consciousness, is the foundation of a spiritual life and enriched retirement. But finding a true passion and the ideal outlets for it is a conundrum that this valuable book addresses. “Giving” does not have to mean joining existing groups.

The book offers solid, practical advice about starting a charity and how to succeed at the all-important function of fundraising.

Fundraising is all about trust and relationship-building, with some luck, writes Dr. Rajaram. The key factors to build trust are conveying four things to the would-be donor: commitment to the mission; transparency in finances; ethical conduct; and knowledge of the inner workings of the organization.

The book offers international and local examples of organizations deemed worthy of receiving time or money. Engineers Without Borders and Engineers Without Borders International work closely with local stakeholders in poor communities to provide water, sanitation, health, education and energy. The Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria operates in 140 countries. In Elmhurst, the Citizens Advocacy Committee helps communities achieve self-determination by providing technical assistance, legal assistance, civic education and mentorship to youth and adults. Those with artistic skills can also give by playing an instrument or singing in local choirs or band or volunteering in their offices.

Many looking at retirement in a few years will appreciate the detailed advice about maintaining financial health, negotiating taxes, Social Security and Medicare and achieving maximum physical health through stress reduction and good nutrition.

Dr. Rajaram is a geotechnical and environmental engineer with a four-decade history of working on environmentally conscious underground construction, hazardous waste management, wastewater treatment and recycling and municipal solid waste management.