Do you like to help people and give back to your community? Nonprofit work can be very rewarding and it’s also possible to earn a good salary, especially if you have a philanthropic heart. We’ve researched nonprofit jobs and will point you in the right direction toward the right nonprofit job for you.
Main Takeaways: Getting a Nonprofit Job
- Nonprofits serve the community and general public. There are many different types of nonprofits which means many different skills and talents are needed in this field.
- Depending on what you do for your nonprofit, you may need a degree. However, the level of education needed ranges based on job type.
- Those working at nonprofits require certain skills to be successful. These include marketing, project management, organization, and more. We explore these below.
- What is a Nonprofit?
- What Are People with Nonprofit Jobs Responsible For?
- Do I Need a Degree to Work for a Nonprofit?
- Types of Nonprofit Jobs and Titles
- Salary Ranges and Expectations for Nonprofit Jobs
- Projected Growth Rate of the Nonprofit Field
- How to Get a Job at a Nonprofit
- Top 6 Skills to Be Successful at a Nonprofit
- Lend a Helping Hand and Make a Living
What is a Nonprofit?
A nonprofit is a corporation or agency that conducts business for the benefit of the general public. Any profits earned by a nonprofit organization must be reinvested into the company to cover expenses, programs and operations. Many nonprofit companies are exempt from paying federal taxes if they qualify as one of 29 different types of nonprofit entities.
Today, there are more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations registered in the U.S., according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics. Since each organization requires staff to help run operations and programs, there is a huge need for workers in this sector.
What Are People with Nonprofit Jobs Responsible For?
Depending on the position, there are several different job functions a nonprofit worker may do on a daily basis. Assistants might be responsible for organizing membership records or evaluating recipient applications.
There are also roles for marketing staff members who promote the agency’s cause and mission as well as development directors who solicit donations and grants from community members and corporations to help keep the agency up and running.
Nonprofit managers and directors run the day-to-day operations, overseeing all employees and departments and making executive decisions regarding fundraising initiatives.
Do I Need a Degree to Work for a Nonprofit?
If you’re looking for an entry-level nonprofit job, you may not need a college degree. You’ll need a bachelor’s degree at the very least if you’re targeting a management position. A few common bachelor’s degree majors include social work, nonprofit management and program management.
A master of business administration, master of public administration, master of public policy or master of social work would all be suitable if you’re seeking an executive-level nonprofit job. In some cases, you may be able to find a more senior-level nonprofit job if you’ve built up a work history demonstrating considerable nonprofit experience.
Types of Nonprofit Jobs and Titles
There are quite a few categories of nonprofit organizations, so it’s no surprise there are many different jobs and titles that fall under the larger nonprofit job umbrella. Here are a few sample jobs and titles.
Entry-Level Nonprofit Jobs
An entry-level nonprofit worker might run errands and help take care of administrative tasks such as answering phones and greeting clients for any kind of nonprofit entity. Examples of entry-level nonprofit jobs include assistant, office assistant and receptionist.
Public schools supported by the federal government or taxpayers are nonprofit organizations, so employees of these schools would be considered nonprofit employees. Job titles range from teachers and custodians to social workers and school counselors.
Most churches are classified as nonprofit organizations. Common jobs in churches include priests or pastors, maintenance workers, facility managers and office secretaries.
Examples of nonprofit charities include disaster relief agencies such as the American Red Cross, animal charities such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and environmental charities like Greenpeace. A few nonprofit jobs within these charities could be managers, scientists and directors.
Business Improvement Organizations
Business improvement organizations support small businesses by providing resources such as funding and expertise. Examples include local chambers of commerce and the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE).
SCORE partners with the Small Business Administration to provide mentors, education and financial assistance to small business owners. Business improvement organization jobs might include business mentors and advisors.
Private foundations are funded by individuals or corporations. The largest private foundation in the world is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with its $38 billion in assets.
This foundation partners with global research partners and organizations to improve the living conditions of the poor. Other examples of private foundations include the Carnegie Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. Jobs within private foundations could include development directors and grant writers.
Salary Ranges and Expectations for Nonprofit Jobs
The average salary for a nonprofit worker varies depending on the job title, but let’s take a look at a few examples. The average salary for an entry-level nonprofit program coordinator is $38,730, while a program manager earns $50,607 and an executive director makes $65,556, according to Payscale.com.
Projected Growth Rate of the Nonprofit Field
As for job growth, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor and Statistics released a study on nonprofit jobs that reveals that nonprofit employment grew by nearly 17% from 2007 to 2016, while for-profit jobs grew by less than 7%.
The study also showed the nonprofit sector accounted for the third largest employee payroll by industry, generating $638.1 billion in total wages in 2016. Social or community service manager jobs are projected to increase by 18% by 2026, 11% higher than the average job growth rate.
PNP Staffing, an agency that specializes in nonprofit employment, reported that nonprofit hiring has increased by more than 50%, public and financial support for nonprofits is at an all-time high and millennials are positively impacting the nonprofit workforce.
How to Get a Job at a Nonprofit
If you’ve decided the nonprofit sector is your calling, here are some tips to help jump start your job search:
- Volunteer: Nonprofits usually always need volunteers. Visit websites of nonprofits that interest you and check out their “volunteers” section. Volunteering will give you the opportunity to see if this field is right for you and provide experience at the same time.
- Consider an internship: Are you in college? Check with your college’s career and professional development center to look for an internship at a nonprofit. An internship will boost your resume and will give you a chance to see what it’s like to work for a nonprofit organization.
- Target your job search: In addition to searching traditional job search engines, there are job search sites that feature nonprofit jobs, such as Idealist.org.
- Apply online: Visit nonprofits’ official websites and look for job postings under their career section.
- Register with a nonprofit staffing agency: Look for staffing agencies that specialize in matching nonprofit organizations with qualified job seekers.
- Start your own nonprofit: Do you have a cause that’s calling your name? Start small by organizing a few friends and colleagues who are like-minded. Organize a meeting and establish some bylaws. Read some entrepreneurship books to learn more about starting your own company and research what is required to obtain nonprofit tax-exempt status.
Top 6 Skills to Be Successful at a Nonprofit
Nonprofit organizations need people with the same type of hard skills as for-profit companies, such as financial management, human resources and IT skills.
Other more intangible skills (known as soft skills) aren’t learned as much as they are already a part of a person’s character. You’ll need a combination of both hard and soft skills to be successful at a nonprofit. Here are the top 6 skills you should have if this is your chosen career.
Building collaborative partnerships and relationships with business owners, donors, recipients and other community members is a key factor of being successful at a nonprofit agency. As a nonprofit worker, you’ll need good verbal, written and presentation communication skills so you can comfortably interact with colleagues and business partners.
The ability to organize job tasks, programs and volunteer groups are all important to thriving nonprofit agencies, so good organizational skills are a must.
Resourcefulness is key for people successful in the nonprofit sector. You’ll need to make the most of limited resources, time and staff members, as they are more scarce for nonprofits. If you can do a lot with a little and know how to save money, your resource skills will be an asset to a nonprofit agency.
Project management skills
There are many different types of projects that need to be managed at nonprofit organizations, so good project management skills are important. Common projects you might be asked to manage include:
- Fundraising initiatives
- Volunteer drives
- Outreach campaigns
Knowing how to create a project plan and meet project goals are an ongoing need in most nonprofit agencies.
Good marketing skills are imperative in this field because nonprofits must raise money to be successful. You might need to create a catchy marketing slogan or promotional campaign.
Nonprofits need to be able to collect data fast and efficiently so they can measure the impact their services have on recipients. Being able to share such data is key to telling the nonprofit’s story, so good analytical skills are important.
Nonprofit work will help you expand your job skill set and those skills will be transferable to the for-profit sector if you decide you want to cross over to the corporate world.
Lend a Helping Hand and Make a Living
Nonprofit jobs aren’t for everyone. On the flip side, there are many job opportunities and the job growth rate is high. Though nonprofits can’t pay as well as larger corporations, many are competitive when it comes to benefits and can offer retirement plans, tuition reimbursement, generous vacation time and onsite fitness facilities among other perks.
You’ll also likely be able to wear many different hats within an organization, be valued as an employee and will work with people who share the same cause as you do.
If you’re looking to expand your skill set to work at a nonprofit, check out Benzinga’s top picks for the best networking books to help you build important partnerships. Or, expand your creative skills with our selection of the best online marketing classes.