How to Get a Job at a Nonprofit

Career in Nonprofit

Why Working for a Nonprofit is a Good Idea

Just after graduating, it makes sense that students would want to work their first big corporate job instead of looking into nonprofits. After all, the name nonprofit makes it sound like the business doesn’t profit at all, and neither will you. Fortunately, that isn’t true.

According to the Stanford Social Innovation Review, nonprofits were among the only companies hiring during the 2009 economic downturn. In addition, it points out that every degree has some practical application in the nonprofit sector. Did you major in English? Sharpen your technical writing skills, get comfortable with writing grants, and you’ll find work quickly.

As we mentioned before, worrying about salaries in the nonprofit sector is pointless—entry-level positions in both sectors pay similarly. Forbes points out that the worry about nonprofit work doesn’t extend to base pay, but is entirely contained in one concern: movement.

While you can work your entire life in Corporate America and decide later on to transfer into the nonprofit sector, it’s difficult to do the reverse. This is the only real downside to working in a nonprofit, but if your intention is to do something good with your education, and you feel dedicated to a cause, this won’t be a concern.

In the end, according to Forbes, there are over 1.4 million tax-exempt, nonprofit organizations in the United States that include many of society’s noblest institutions. These companies make up more than 5.5% of the country’s GDP, and the sector is growing at a rapid rate. The only question left is how do you start looking for a job at a nonprofit?

How to Get a Nonprofit Job

The beginning of your search should take place at your university. Whether you’re attending an online school, are currently undeclared, or are considering going back to school, you’ll need your degree. While all degrees are applicable to the nonprofit industry, there’s one degree that stands above the rest in terms of hiring rate.

The nonprofit sector is always looking for people who are business savvy—those who have applicable skills to the particular nonprofit, but can function as a jack-of-all-trades. The heart of the nonprofit sector, as you may have guessed, is fundraising. While not everyone involved in a nonprofit organization will be directly hands-on working with fundraising, this particular attribute—the ability to balance a budget, distribute funds, and advise—is one of the most sought-after skills.

Once you have your degree, you’ll want to start searching for a position that aligns with the causes you care about. Forbes has a great list of websites that will help you narrow down your search. From larger organizations that do humanitarian work abroad to smaller, centralized organizations that provide services to inner-city youth, you’ll find whatever you’re looking for there.

This is the point where you’ll need to decide if you’re ready to relocate. Finding a job in the nonprofit sector is easy if you’re willing to go anywhere in the world. Depending on where you live, searching for a nonprofit near you can be easy—if you’re in New York City—or extremely difficult if you’re in Lexington, Kentucky. By freeing yourself to travel anywhere, you may find yourself working in North Africa, France, Russia—or Lexington, Kentucky.

Finally, when applying for these positions, cast a wide net. Narrow yourself down to two or three causes, and apply for every applicable position. Nonprofit positions may be difficult to get, but if you feel passionate about your cause and have the education to back up your passion, the chances are high you’ll break into a position that’s right for you.

Wondering what kind of career in the nonprofit industry is right for you? Take a look at our Career Pages to learn more about the educational requirements for each position, salary ranges, and the best locations to earn the position you deserve.

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