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The quickly growing nonprofit field attracts an increasing number of highly skilled and motivated individuals, from idealistic college grads to experienced executives. But a common realization that people have when they begin scanning non-profit job listings is that they don’t have a clear idea of what kind of job they want or that the breakdown of job responsibilities in the field differs from what they imagined. Particularly in smaller non-profits (or small branches of large organizations), workers are expected to demonstrate versatility and willingness to get their hands dirty performing tasks not ordinarily associated with their position.
A must read for anyone hoping to launch a nonprofit career! Nonprofits need talented, creative people with all types of skills and experiences. The Nonprofit Career Guide will help you find the best opportunity for you and your interests.
But there are many attractive and rewarding careers in the non-profit sector once you have the lay of the land. It is important to narrow your vision of your search to a manageable area and begin to form a clear idea of what kind of organization you want to work for. From that point, you can make an informed decision about taking your first non-profit job and begin developing a career in earnest.
Salaries in the nonprofit sector tend to be lower than in the private sector. While this is not a hard and fast rule, it is certainly something that you should take into consideration. Moving from the for-profit sector to nonprofit may also mean a paycut. The chart below, from PayScale.com provides a comparison.
Read below for five types of positions in the non-profit arena and the skill set they typically require.
Public Policy Director
An MPA degree equips you well for important policy-focused positions for which many non-profit workers lack the expertise. Your knowledge of business fundamentals, organizational structures, and policy-making processes makes you the ideal head of policy for any organization.There are many attractive and rewarding careers in the nonprofit sector once you have the lay of the land. It's important to narrow your vision of your search to a manageable area and begin to form a clear idea of what organization you want to work for.Click To Tweet
Just like corporations, any reasonably large non-profit group needs someone to manage operations, from making sure employees stay on task and communicate with each other to monitoring the organization’s cash flow. This is another area where many growing grassroots organizations staffed by extraordinarily talented and dedicated people simply lack the educational background and experience to be effective.
A large part of the work of many non-profits has to do with raising awareness of key issues and countering sensational or unbalanced media coverage of sensitive topics. Public perception is guided to an alarming degree by messages delivered via media such as advertising and lopsided news outlets, and non-profits work hard to project their voices. In some situations, this work is also closely linked to fundraising.
From the Ground Up: Digital Fundraising for Nonprofits is a practical primer on the ways of understanding, building, designing and innovating an effective digital fundraising program.
Grant Writing and Fundraising
While a non-profit’s focus is never to make money as an end in itself, every organization requires consistent cash flow in order to sustain its operations and allow for the possibility of organizational growth. Finding ways to generate cash flow that are effective and consistent with the organization’s principles is often a full-time job – and in some cases, a job that requires a staff of its own.
Advocates are people who spend their day-to-day lives fighting directly for the needs of individual clients or communities. Advocacy can be part of a low-level job, or it can be the primary responsibility of a highly qualified professional. Social workers, lawyers, and all manner of other individuals engage in advocacy of various kinds. This demanding work is at the center of what many non-profits do, although it is not always as dramatic as it sounds.