If your idea of non-profit are tiny organizations with a few employees helping a few people here and there, think again; non-profit organizations in the U.S actually make up almost 11 percent of the workforce.
People often have the misconception that if you work in a non-profit it means that you can’t make a living out of it, but that’s not the case. You can make a career in a non-profit organization just like you can in any other industry; the only difference is that you are working for an organization that helps people in need. This is why most people who work in non-profits are committed to their careers.
So, if your dream is to work in a non-profit here are a few things you should know:
1. Is It the Right Industry for You?
Working for a non-profit organization is really rewarding and that’s because you are working for a ‘company’ that has a real impact on the world. This alone can be motivating and it can give you the right incentives to commit yourself to work.
You should, however, note that working for a non-profit is not as idealistic as you might think. While you are working for a cause indeed, it’s nothing like working with the starving children in Africa; work in a non-profit organization basically means coming up with ways to increase donor contributions. People who work for non-profit organizations are always at the risk of a burnout as they work long hours. Their work is exhausting because it’s never ending –there are always people that need their help- while salaries are not that great in comparison to what people in other industries receive with similar working hours.
2. Volunteer for Your Favourite Non-Profit
If you are really passionate about working in a non-profit try volunteering first. Find a non-profit in which you really believe and ask them if you can volunteer for a while. They’ll most likely say yes as they can always use the help. This way you can get a hands-on experience of what it’s like to be on the inside, while you’ll also gain relevant work experience. You’ll also make connections within the non-profit that will prove useful when you want to be employed. Even if that organization can’t employ you, they’ll probably be able to refer you to someone else looking to hire. So, make sure that you commit yourself to your volunteering.
3. Use the Internet to Guide You
It’s a good idea to look for non-profit organizations close to your location, this way you can volunteer for them first without spending too much on commuting. But if you live in an area where there aren’t lots of active non-profit organizations, or you can’t find any of the causes you are really passionate about, use online websites to guide you. Charity Navigator can prove to be really helpful in this respective as they rate their charities with stars. You can avoid dodgy charities by searching for them here, while you can also get an idea of how charities are doing financially which will help with getting an idea of how much they might be willing to pay you. There are also other great websites to help you with your job search such as Top Non-Profit.
4. How to Get the Job
What you should really pay attention to when you are applying for a job in the non-profit industry is that you need to be extra passionate. While it’s always a good idea to be enthusiastic about job prospects, in the non-profit sector, being enthusiastic is a must. Non-profit organization hiring managers know that their sector requires hard work, long hours and the compensation for all of it is not that attractive, so they want to invest in people that will be willing to go the extra mile.
Also, make sure you do your homework when writing a cover letter, or attending a job interview in the non-profit sector. Have the figures straight, know the history of the organization, be aware of who the donors are and come prepared to pitch your ideas on how to increase donor contributions. Your preparation will be appreciated and your willingness to do the job will help you actually get the job.
If your dream is to work for a non-profit and make a career out of it make sure that you demonstrate your passion and your willingness to work hard for it.
Do you have any tips for people interested in working in non-profit organizations? Share with us in the comment section below.