How To Get Nonprofit Jobs: A Step-By-Step Guide (With Tips)

There are many amazing career pathways within the nonprofit sector. This information is meant to offer insight into the different opportunities and cultures within the separate nonprofit industries and offers advice on how best to apply and approach the sector you are most interested in.

From environmental organizations, foundations, art organizations, to women’s rights social services this post touches on what you need to know in order to be able to apply at one. Written here is information about what it takes to get the nonprofit job you want, and also further pathways for adding meat to your resume, nonprofit profile, and employment strategies that actually work.

My name is Isaac and I am one of the Co-Founders of Foundation List. I am also a nonprofit Executive Director of an arts organization for the past thirteen years, and most importantly a Nonprofit Executive Recruiter and expert in the field– so I know the tricks, realities, and approaches to get you the interview and get you hired. And most importantly, as I am part of Foundation List, I am very passionate about sharing information and tips about finding nonprofit jobs.

How to get a job with a nonprofit
  1. Find your passion. …
  2. Volunteer your time. …
  3. Look for internships. …
  4. Connect through social media channels. …
  5. Build a network. …
  6. Get the credentials you need. …
  7. Understand the differences between the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. …
  8. Build skills in various areas.

22 Types of Paid Nonprofit Jobs & Careers

What is the work environment like in a nonprofit organization?

The work environment at a nonprofit is likely to vary depending on the size, location, industry and budget of the organization. Some key elements may include:

Like-minded employees

Since each nonprofit organization operates with specific goals and objectives, its likely that they comprise like-minded employees. If youre looking for a job in this industry, its important to find a nonprofit that aligns with your personal values, morals or passions. This may ensure that youll enjoy working toward that particular cause. Working with like-minded employees may add a sense of comradery within the workplace since each employee contributes to the same goal.

Smaller workforce

You may find that many nonprofit organizations have a smaller workforce than for-profits. This may be a result of a smaller budget for employee salaries or because theres a different workload based on the nonprofits goals. With a smaller workforce, you may have the opportunity to get to know your coworkers well by building professional connections. Professionally, its likely that you participate in the work of a few different departments, which can help you gain a better understanding of multiple aspects of the organization.

New skill development

Since nonprofits operate differently than for-profit companies, its likely that youll learn new skills during your time working at a nonprofit. For example, instead of making sales to large-scale clients, you might assist the development team with the years biggest fundraiser. While each task requires knowledge of finance and accounting, they entail different combinations of business skills.

What is the nonprofit industry?

The nonprofit industry comprises various organizations, charities or private foundations that qualify for tax exemption under federal laws. These organizations work to advance the public interest or serve the greater good. The most common type of nonprofit receives a 501(c)(3) classification from the Internal Revenue Service. Despite having a similar tax classification, nonprofits often vary widely from one another. There are many nonprofit organizations that address different issues or concerns in multiple industries. For example, some may serve people who live on the streets, while others support people with a particular illness.

One distinction for nonprofits is that the money earned through sales, fundraisers or donations contributes to the ongoing operation of the nonprofit. Despite using funds differently than for-profit organizations, nonprofits may use similar business strategies as a for-profit company for internal operations, making sales or marketing for events. Its important for nonprofits to ensure that they comply with the state and federal regulations for charitable organizations to ensure they can continue to operate.

How to get nonprofit jobs

Consider following these steps to get a job in the nonprofit industry:

1. Identify what youre passionate about

Before you decide what industry to work in, you may benefit from identifying a specific issue or cause youre passionate about. This may help you narrow your search and find a nonprofit that aligns with your values. You may have a higher chance of getting hired at a nonprofit that aligns with your personal passions.

2. Start looking in your community

One strategy for finding nonprofits that might interest you is by looking in your own community. You may find that your own neighborhood has a variety of charities or organizations that serve a valuable purpose. These grassroots organizations can be a good place to begin your journey in the nonprofit sector.

3. Build your network

Another helpful strategy is to build your personal and professional network. Consider conducting a few informational interviews to learn more from specific people who work or volunteer in a nonprofit in which youre interested. Talking to people involved may help you make contacts in the various sectors where you want to work. Building a professional network may also contribute to your success when you begin applying and interviewing.

4. Volunteer

You may decide to volunteer at a local charity or foundation to acquaint yourself with a particular organization or line of work. Volunteering can help you better understand what it might be like to work in that particular nonprofit. It may help you make connections with people on staff who may connect you with organizations that are looking to hire. You can learn how sustainable the organization is, how they operate internally and what strategies they use to recruit and retain both volunteers and staff members.

5. Find an internship

Another way to gain experience in the nonprofit sector is through an internship. Interning at a nonprofit has the potential to impact your career by giving you nonprofit experience, teaching you new skills and acquainting you with the particular demands of this industry. You may find that an internship leads to a job offer, based on your performance, the organizational budget or the particular needs of the nonprofit. Once you have internship experience, you can add it to your resume as you begin to look for a full or part-time role at a different nonprofit.

6. Use social media

Many nonprofits are active on various social media sites since the organizations post updates about the work they do, details about when theyre hiring or events you can attend. Following a few different nonprofits on social media can expose you to various opportunities to begin working in the industry. You might find a nonprofit that interests you through social media that you can follow along with as you continue to do research and start applying for jobs.

7. Think broadly

Its important to think broadly as you begin your search for nonprofits where you might want to join. Since there are organizations in many industries, its likely that youll be able to find one that works toward the cause you care about. If you feel intrigued by an organization, consider volunteering, following them on social media and arranging meetings with various members of the staff to learn more about it.

8. Pursue an education

While the specific education you need depends on the roles youre applying for, an education may equip you for work in this industry. You might consider studying nonprofit business, economics or a similar degree. While each organization has different requirements for its employees, earning a degree may increase your chances of finding a job in this sector.

Nonprofit resume writing tips

Here are a few tips to consider when writing a resume to apply for a nonprofit job:

Roles in nonprofit organizations

Here are a few roles you might consider within nonprofits:

Primary duties: A grant writer is responsible for researching, composing and submitting grant proposals. These professionals write extensive reports about the nonprofit in efforts to secure funding from particular donors and grant makers. Their work is foundational to the income of nonprofits.

Primary duties: A manager of volunteer services is responsible for recruiting, retaining and delegating work to volunteers. Many nonprofits with outreach-based structures rely on their volunteers to successfully complete their mission. Managers of volunteer services contribute to the operational success of nonprofits.

Primary duties: Fundraising managers are responsible for planning and executing various projects that seek to raise funds for the nonprofit. Typically, these events are specific to the organization and provide opportunities for community members to learn more about the cause. These professionals are important for the financial well-being of nonprofits.

Primary duties: A philanthropy manager is responsible for communicating with the donors of a nonprofit. If there are multiple donors who frequently give to the organization, these professionals strive to maintain positive relationships between them and the nonprofit. This is an important aspect of nonprofit work that encourages participation in the organizations cause.

FAQ

How do people make money in a non profit?

  • Nonprofits are not as stable or lucrative as private companies. …
  • Can you get paid what you’re worth. …
  • You may have to work long hours for lower pay. …
  • The culture is often less competitive and cutthroat than in a corporate environment. …
  • Promotions are limited, especially if you’re working at a small nonprofit.

Is it good to work for non profit?

Nonprofits receive much of their income through donations. These donations cover operational expenses and help nonprofits achieve their missions. Individual giving made up 68% of all charitable giving in 2018. 8 Corporate and foundation giving are usually much smaller fractions of that philanthropic endeavor.

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