Working for a nonprofit, like any job, has its advantages and disadvantages. Also like other jobs, the opportunity is not for everyone. Check out the list below to assess if it is right for you!
Let’s just put it out there. Nonprofits, by definition, are dedicated to furthering a particular social cause or advocating for a shared point of view. In economic terms, it is an organization that uses its surplus revenues to further achieve its ultimate objective, rather than distributing its income to the organization’s shareholders, leaders, or members.
So yes, I get paid a salary. Is that salary less than most of my friends that are in the corporate world? Sure, but not all of them. Does my boss penny pinch and scrutinize our expense reports? Yep. But honestly. it has taught me so much about being frugal and negotiation. I have friends that have a company credit card and car and use it for personal gain instead of business and they are blunt about the fact that their bosses don’t care. I never grew up with a surplus of money, so I can easily look at my salary and say “that’s fair.”
On that note, generally spending budgets is much lower in a nonprofit and you will have to work for every single dollar that comes into the organization.
Working in an organization and not a corporation means that your goal is to make change, not money. Measuring how much change you made can be difficult. There is no amount of sales or phone calls you need to make each week (usually).
Nonprofit organizations function a lot like a sports team. If the team wins a game, THEY ALL win. You don’t hear “Lebron James won the basketball game” or “Tom Brady lost yesterday.” You can have an event and it is a success, it is the work of everyone on the team, not just one person.
Basically, if quotas discourage you, you should consider working at a nonprofit. You may not be able to measure everything, but you sure as hell can learn and achieve it.
More than any industry I’ve studied, nonprofits tend to have the highest turnover percentages. The pressure of the job is so high that it puts a lot on the shoulders of individuals and that stress can’t be carried forever. To be honest, the work is hard and you are usually shorthanded. It is just something you will need to accept. Those that consciously don’t accept it will leave.
In a nonprofit, every day that you go into the office, you have the ability to change the world. If a company like AT&T or Northwestern Mutual gets another customer, nothing major is going to change (probably). Your main goal is not sell more products, make more money. If someone joins your organization, maybe they step away from a drug abuse life or build networking skills to become a major influence in this world. If you want to love your life and job, nothing does that quite like watching someone’s life literally change right before your eyes.
Nonprofits are generally more apt to take risks and challenge the norm. If you have an idea, you can speak up and test it out. It is generally a stereotype that millennials want their voices heard and to make a difference. There is no better place to do that than a nonprofit.
Small organizations that depend on volunteers generally have smaller full time staffs. This means less room for promotions and there isn’t much of a career path. This also means wearing many hats and being responsible for a large variety of tasks. This can get stressful fast, but nothing feels as good as looking back and saying “Hell yeah, I did all of those things, I never thought I would pull it out!” You will build a skillset that you may have never thought you were interested in.
When you work on a small staff, you get to see your work make a difference, like I have touched on already. Let’s be honest, the impact a nonprofit is unlike anything else in this world.
I work at a nonprofit that helps college students get real life experience in sales, marketing and management. I’ve seen people from their freshman year, scared to speak to adults, mumbles and cant keep eye contact turn into seniors who are presenting in front of hundreds of people and winning the premier sales competition in the nation.
I thought I wanted to go in a totally different direction and the moment I was offered this job, I knew it was going to be my career. I have now taken on responsibilities I never thought I would, helped hire people into the company, and now I am next in line to be CEO.
Everyday I go into work and I am honestly excited to be there. My work is fun. I am not required to make 100 calls a day like my friends and I truly get so much out of the impact we have in the business world. I know that our students are going to get a great job and their experience in our organization has made them a well-rounded individual that is going to go far.
Many times, nonprofit organizations will advertise their job openings on their website and social media. Make sure you are following them and staying up to date. Sign up for their newsletters, many will put openings in these places because they generally are looking for someone that already shows interest in their organization and aligns their priorities with the cause. As LinkedIn continually grows, more and more organizations have job postings on there. Interested in a specific organization? It wouldn’t hurt to give them a call or send an email to someone at the office. You never know until you ask!