Career Tracks

Charitable work centers around helping people and building community. There are a variety of fields that you can work in: 

  • Education
  • Health
  • International
  • Legal
  • Social services
  • International Aid

Just like with for-profit companies, there are hundreds of different positions you can work in within nonprofits: 

  • Management: Chief Operating Officer, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Resource Development Manager.

  • Administrative: Human Resources, Information Technology (IT), Administrative Assistant

  • Programming: Program Director, Volunteer Manager, Project Coordinator, Education Coordinator

  • Marketing and Communications: Social Media Manager, Content Writer, Public Relations

  • Development: Resource Development Manager, Fundraiser, Grant Writer, Annual Giving Manager

Keep in mind that each of these jobs might include multiple roles which allows you to contribute in a variety of tasks. This will then position you to move around in the organization. 

Is nonprofit work right for me? 

It takes more than good will to be a good nonprofit employee. Just like any career, there are pros and cons you should consider before jumping in. 
  • Bureaucracy: Nonprofits are notoriously slow to change. Decisions are made through board approvals or partner buy-in, which slows things down. 
  • Lower pay: Pay is typically lower than for-profit companies
  • Limited resources: They operate on dollars from fundraising so resources are tight. 
  • Wearing many hats: Nonprofit employees are often responsible for a broader spectrum of tasks that for-profit employees. This can lead to burnout. 
  • An overwhelming sense of responsibility: When you are working for a cause you care about, it is easy to feel the weight of your role on your shoulders. 
  • Intrinsic benefits: It feels good to do good. Working at a nonprofit gives you a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. 
  • Wearing many hats: Having many roles and responsibilities can expand an employees skill set and improve your chances of moving up the ladder. 
  • Non-financial incentives: Since pay is low, non-financial incentives are offered to draw in employees such as flexible work schedules and family-friendly practices. 

Skills for nonprofit

The number one skill that is most important for nonprofit professionals is: the ability to find balance. 
  • Burnout is a serious concern for those early in their career. Due to long hours and high expectations. 
Other important skills:
  • Data analysis
  • Event planning
  • Desire to help people
  • Amendable, getting along with different types of people
  • Self-motivated
  • Good written and verbal communication skills
  • Able to multitask

Keep in mind nonprofits put greater weight on soft skills with an understanding that hard skills can be learned over time. 

Paths to or tips to enter

  • Most nonprofits require a minimum of a bachelor's degree, but a masters will help you stand out. If a masters is not financially feasible, you can consider some online classes and graduate certificates. The most important thing is that you show your commitment to social good. Some nonprofit-specific degrees include:
    • Masters in Public Administration
    • Masters in Social Work
    • Masters in Public Policy
    • Masters in Business Administration 
  • Before your are ready to apply, do your research on the organizations:
    • What is their methodology?
    • Where do they get funding? 
    • What resources do they provide staff?
    • Do they have strong community support from volunteers, advocates and board members? 
    • What do other employees say about their experience?
    • What does the specific role entail? 
  • Volunteer- Will help you decide if you enjoy the organization and get your name out there
  • Network