The nonprofit sector has opportunities for every major or minor skill set. Whether you want to be a computer technician, a legal expert, an accountant or a teacher, the nonprofit sector has opportunities for you. Whatever be your talent, the nonprofit sector has an opening for you.
New graduates who want to find a way of giving back to society while earning their paycheck can find a plethora of opportunities in the nonprofit sector. Nonprofits are no longer a place where you work for a few years after college or in transition between "real" jobs. Today you can find a meaningful lifelong career working in nonprofits.
There is no doubt that nonprofits tend to attract people who are passionate about social change as well as securing their future financially.
Let us look at the some of the advantages of working in a nonprofit.
There are many reasons why nonprofit work appeals to people. Some advantages of nonprofit careers include:
1. The opportunity of working in an organization that is mission-driven, and is geared to improving the lives of others and paving the way for social change, rather than merely adding to the profits of the employers. A nonprofit job also enables you to do the work which you would otherwise do in an unpaid position in your free time.
2. More "hands-on" work which enables you to see the practical outcome of your work.
3. A more casual work environment which includes a more relaxed dress code and flexible work schedules.
4. Greater levels of responsibility. You may be called upon to shoulder responsibilities that are not a part of your job description, because of fewer resources to hire additional staff. This allows for the opportunity of learning new skills and developing new abilities.
5. The possibility of advancing in your career faster. Greater levels of responsibility in your day to day work helps you to advance faster in your career. You may be able to move between organizations while advancing up the responsibility ladder.
6. A friendly work environment that is based on cooperation between like minded people, rather than a competitive environment.
7. More generous benefits. While nonprofits traditionally offer lower salaries, they make up for it by offering more generaous benefits like excellent health benefits for the employee and their family, longer vacation time and other "perks".
8. The opportunity of working in an organization that responds more quickly to challenges or fill a niche than for-profit organizations.
These advantages are subject to the budgetary limitations of the nonprofit you work for. They are not universal truths. Some of the disadvantages of working in a nonprofit include:
1. Adjusting to the values of the workplace. There may be a mis-match between your personal values and the values of an organization. In order to thrive in such an environment you must be able to adjust.
2. Lower wages. Traditionally, nonprofits have payed lower wages compared with for-profit organizations, for similar positions. Usually, upper level managers in large nonprofits have pays comparable to similar positions in for-profit firms. But fresh graduates are often offered lower wages.
3. Burnout is a common reality in the nonprofit sector. Nonprofits often demand more than a 40-hour a week commitment. Some nonprofit employees have to work long hours to meet the challenges of community events like fundraisers, thus there is a greater risk of a burnout. Also, the goals of a nonprofit are often not tangible and measurable (such as ending poverty). It is also difficult to objectively quantify the success of a nonprofit's endeavours to achieving their goals. This can also lead to frustration and burnout.
4. There is a different kind of hierarchy in a nonprofit organization. Professionals who need clear benchmarks and deliverables in their work environment can often be frustrated.
5. Social change is slow and unpredictable. Thus it is sometimes difficult to correlate social impact and effort. This leads to frustration.
6. Nonprofits are often under-staffed. Most rely on unpaid volunteers to do the work, but volunteers are unpredictable. This leaves the over-worked staff to do the work.