Moving to a Not-For-Profit Job: What to expect and do?


The recessionary phase of economy saw many people being relieved from their responsibilities in the corporate world. As economy is picking up, many of these professionals are going back to their life in cubicle. However, there are many who are willing to let go of such opportunities in lieu of testing new waters such as the non-profit world. If you also are contemplating a change to this sector, then this post is for you.

 Long ago there was a time when nonprofit jobs were considered a bastion of 50-plus, often retired workers. However, the scenario has changed as these jobs are now attracting the attention of the new generation of 30-plus & even 20-plus graduates. Besides, nonprofit jobs are on the rise as a survey by Nonprofit HR Solutions revealed in a 2013 report. The survey findings revealed that forty-four percent of nonprofit groups were planning to hire more workers, which is one third greater than what it used be two years back.

In fact, the sector is actually a safer bet for employment than for-profit sector. During the 2010 economic downturn, when for-profit sector experienced an 8.4 percent decrease in employment and 8 percent decrease in wages, the nonprofit sector witnessed 4 percent increase in overall employment and 6.5 percent increase in wages.   The number of volunteers in nonprofits has increased as more and more people are seeking ways to contribute to society by either making a career change or through volunteering with nonprofit organizations.  If you are among those considering such a career shift, here are few tips to get you through:

Find what you care about the most

Your desirability for a nonprofit job depends a lot on your passion for that particular cause. The more you can show that you really care for the cause, the better are your chances of getting hired. Besides, the area which you are most passionate about is the one which you will care to read and know about. This will also reflect in your knowledge and help you later in the interview stages.

So what do you care about most?  Is it healthcare or education or maybe International affairs?

Research the nonprofits

Once you have a clear view of the cause you will be working for it will be time to research the NGOs associated with it. Start the search from your own city as it would be easiest to work out from there. Every major city has multiple grass root nonprofits working in different areas. Besides, these cities also have the local branches of global NGOs such as Red Cross, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation amongst others. If you can move to a different location, nothing like that; it will automatically increase your options manifold.   You can subscribe to key publications like The Chronicles of Philanthropy and Stanford Social Innovation Review. Last but not the least; do not forget to bookmark the corporate websites of these NGOs as most of them list their job openings right there.

Volunteer for your favorite nonprofit

Expecting to get a well paying job right at the very onset of your professional career doesn’t actually happen to most of NGOs. Volunteering is the perfect way to try out a new organization. It will give you the right amount of exposure to how things work in nonprofits in general as well as tell you about how the organization handles its resources. The contacts that you make here will prove valuable later in your job search.

Finding a nonprofit job: Sites to explore

So where do you find the best nonprofit jobs? While classified job sites like SimplyHired, CareerBuilder, Monster, Naukri do have not-for-profit listings, if you are serious about finding the best opportunity in this arena, here are some sites specifically built for this purpose: The most comprehensive job-site for anyone looking an encore with career with social purpose. It offers the Encore Career Finder service that allows you to search through more than 5 million listings by field and location. Another exclusive job board for nonprofits with more than 10,000 jobs and 100,000 organizations to choose from. There are options to search events and jobs by location and relevance. You can narrow down your search to volunteer opportunities or internships or programs and events.

Common good Careers:   Common good Careers are a search firm celebrating its 9th anniversary in 2014. In the Get Hired section you can find different job listings to apply on. The site mainly list nonprofits looking to hire management-level types.

What to expect?

Now is an interesting time to pursue a job in nonprofits. A survey published in Philanthropy Journal reveals that owing to attrition brought on by Baby Boomer retirements, about 67% of nonprofit executives plan to leave their jobs by 2016. That means a lot of new opportunities for everyone looking for a chance to try something new. However, when you make the transition to a nonprofit organization expect some changes, such as:

  • A pay cut: For entry level positions the salaries in nonprofits is typically lesser than their corporate counterparts. However, as nonprofits are tax-exempt organizations, they often are seriously constrained on what they can pay executives. Anyone considering a move from a corporate job to a nonprofit position can refer “The 2011/2012 National Nonprofit Wage & Benefits Report,” available at the Opportunity knocks web site. Plus, nonprofits generally offer fewer perks than for-profit companies.
  • Greater challenges: Nonprofits often face financial constraints that are less prevalent in corporate world. You will be required to perform the usual executive duties such as managing profit and losses, but in a stricter environment. The erratic revenue stream from donation, foundations and grants makes achieving goals harder.
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