Categorized | Job Hunting

Job Opportunities in Non Profit Organizations

Posted on 02 June 2009

Consider a new range of possibilities and rewards.

Time to escape from the tough-as-nails, money-mad, rat race? Maybe the kindly, civic-minded non-profit world is for you. Maybe–but realize that not all for-profit businesses are mean-spirited, nor are all non-profits sweet and cuddly. Important differences exist between the two job worlds, and the range of organizations and cultures in both is incredibly broad.

Where Are the Opportunities?

A non-profit is a corporation that the IRS exempts from federal income tax. Most pursue a charitable mission to improve society in some tangible way. However, some non-profits, like trade associations and lobbying groups, don’t seek public support and are not considered charities.

According to the Urban Institute’s Center on Non-profits and Philanthropy, the U.S. now supports well over 1.5 million non-profits, a 21 percent increase from 1992-98. The National Center for Charitable Statistics tracks the following categories, listed in order of the number of organizations in each:

Non-profit organizations draw people who care about the mission and want to serve society.

  • Human services
  • Education (excluding higher education)
  • Health (excluding hospitals)
  • Arts, culture and humanities
  • Public and societal benefit
  • Religion
  • Environment
  • Hospitals
  • Higher education
  • International and foreign affairs

Besides these categories, there are thousands of charitable foundations, trade and membership associations, interest groups and religious congregations. Clearly, non-profits not only serve many missions, but somewhere within their great diversity of size, type and complexity, there are jobs to interest and reward just about everyone.

Even with recent signs of a softening economy, it’s still a seller’s market for jobs. Just as in the for-profit sector, there are abundant opportunities in the non-profit world. What’s more, nearly every profession is represented. Managers, fundraisers (a role unique to non-profits) and administrators of every stripe perform the business and organizational work. Each organization’s particular programs and services are implemented by others, such as:

  • Social workers
  • Health professionals
  • Counselors
  • Child care workers
  • Lawyers
  • Therapists
  • Clergy

These and countless others help advance the non-profit’s mission. With a methodical search, anyone with marketable skills can likely find a job in a non-profit. Of course, in the professional categories, the necessary degrees or credentials are required.

What’s the Difference?

John Schibler, a CPA and M.B.A., has seen it from both sides. Currently a doctoral candidate in management at the University of Rhode Island, he has also worked as:

  • Partner in a national accounting firm
  • Chief financial officer of major non-profit health care companies
  • Head of a for-profit bioscience firm

“For-profits target financial success, while non-profits pursue a social mission. That fundamental distinction tends to express itself in the attitude and actions of employees. Many non-profits have a humane, values-centered culture. They draw people who care about the mission and want to serve society. For-profits are very results-oriented and sometimes pretty harsh. But I think the biggest influence on atmosphere, sophistication, and business execution is size, not profit orientation,” Schibler says.

He notes that, in most non-profits, another key difference is the frequent presence of volunteers–both as board members and as interested community members working side-by-side with paid staff. “For many non-profits, volunteers are important because they offset expense, but even more because they connect the organization with its constituents and its community,” Schibler says. “Many employees in non-profits have regular contact with board members and volunteers. That’s certainly not the case in most for-profit companies,” he adds.

non profit organizations Job Opportunities in Non Profit OrganizationsWhat About Money–and Success?

In general, the bigger the non-profit, the greater the earnings potential. Large non-profits usually pay well. Professional and managerial salaries can rival those in many for-profit businesses, and executive jobs in sizable non-profits routinely command six-figure incomes. Small, thinly supported non-profits sometimes pay only token wages and rely mostly on volunteer and part-time paid staff.

If you are considering a non-profit job, your personal needs and goals will determine what income level means success for you. One thing applies to all non-profits: Unlike some for-profit companies, no non-profit can reward its staff with the chance to buy its stock at a deep discount. Non-profits, by definition, have no stock to offer.

So what’s the best way to decide if a non-profit job makes sense? “Ask yourself what kind of work will best satisfy your needs, whether they are caring for other people, making a lot of money, building a better mousetrap or building a better community. Whatever your personal goals, you’ll always be at your best if your work allows you to achieve them,” Schibler says.

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2 Comments For This Post

  1. Blake says:

    People need a new funding option, as the normal options for short term expenses and emergency bills, credit lenders at banks and the credit card companies, are experiencing a major shortage of funds to lend. Specially for the fresh graduates who are applying for a job. They need money very much for their retraining. Ivory back scratchers, gold toilets, mistresses, and trips to golf in Tahiti when you’re supposed to figuring out how to pay back the bailout money are things that must be preserved, and so the rest of us need a new funding option. Many a budget in America has been hard hit, as millions have been laid off and credit is tighter than it has ever been, and many are turning to payday loans as a new funding option.

  2. American Biosciences says:

    i need a new job seriously right in time for school.. becasue i need to work work work and make more money uits not even funny but yeah i need help!!

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