September 29, 2010

Non-Profits Can Be Profitable … For You!

There is a joke about working for non-profits that the jobs are low paying, almost to the point about being non-profitable. Very funny, right? Wrong!

This myth about non-profits actually does the field more harm than good. It dissuades talented people like yourself from considering a career in non-profit work out of fear that your paycheck will be in the basement.

Sure, there are poor paying entry-level jobs in non-profits – just like any other field. In fact, according to both and, starting salaries for comparable positions within both for-profit and not-for-profit jobs are essentially the same. And the salaries for senior level positions at non-profit organizations are quite competitive – particularly in large-size and regional or national organizations.

Some of the best paid jobs within non-profit organizations include executive director positions (this is like being the CEO of a for-profit company), project managers, fundraisers, and marketing managers.

As you are working your way up the ranks to these higher paid positions, it’s also good to know that non-profit organizations are still hiring. The 2009 Bridgespan Group Report on Finding Leaders for America’s Nonprofits says that despite the recession and budget-cutting measures,

In the next 12 months, 28 percent of nonprofit organizations with revenues of $1 million and above plan to make one or more senior management hires, translating to 24,000 vacancies in 2009. Those projected vacancies are largely the result of retirement, since much of the existing leadership is comprised of boomers. Vacancies also stem from new roles being created due to an increase in organizational complexity based on growth in prior years. The need is especially acute in human services and arts organizations.

Another great thing about non-profits is that they are often more interested in training and mentoring their employees than for-profits are. Entry-level workers in for-profit companies often get lost in the shuffle. If you do your work well, you may get a promotion or a raise, but it’s unlikely your boss will take you out for lunch, talk to you about your career goals, and help you strategize a ten-year plan to make those goals a reality. Yet this kind of one-on-one mentoring is very common in the non-profit world, where managers are keenly interested in making sure that not only are you accomplishing the tasks necessary to do your job, but that you are finding avenues to grow as a professional within the field. Sounds like a major plus to me!

If you would like to get more information about working in non-profit organizations,  please check out some of these online resources:

Do you have a link to an article or blog post about why non-profit work can be (very) profitable for you? Please share it — and any of your thoughts about working in non-profits — in our comments section.

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