Social Work, Community Outreach, and Group Home Jobs
In nonprofit organizations, the people who deliver services, who run programs, and who care for clients are on the front lines.
They are carrying out the work that most of the administrative staff if working behind-the-scenes to coordinate. The term “direct service” typically refers to these kinds of practitioners, but it is a broad concept that can vary from organization to organization. Below are descriptions of some of the most popular types of nonprofit direct service jobs, but it is not exhaustive; if you are interested in working directly with people (or animals related jobs!) in a nonprofit setting, it is important to do lots of research about exactly what those jobs are like in a particular organization or agency.
Most people think of social work jobs when they imagine direct service in a nonprofit organization. It is true the social work is a very popular and rewarding profession. As a social worker, you can work one on one with people in need of guidance and care, and help them get what they need from nonprofit organizations and government agencies that provide them. Social workers need to have excellent people skills, must be patient and organized. Social workers often need to coordinate with multiple agencies, and have multiple cases or clients at any given time. Social workers need to have the proper license, which requires an exam at the end of a four-year college education. There are even more opportunities for those with a master’s degree, which requires an addition two years in graduate school.
Social work is not easy. There are time constraints, heavy workloads, and stress associated with caring for those who are in need, and not always being able to give them exactly what they need. However, the rewards of a non profit social work job far exceed its challenges.
Community Organizing/Community Outreach
There are many instances where a nonprofit or government agency is offering a service that either no one knows about, or does not actually fit the needs of its intended recipients. In the case of housing for the homeless, for example, it can be difficult to get a true sense of what people need out of housing services. Those people who go out into the community to speak with people and help them get in touch with nonprofit services are known as community organizers, or community outreach workers.
There are so many things that a community organizer can do; community organizers work with labor unions, tenant associations, immigration issues, environmental issues. Any issue that a nonprofit organization feels needs massive support and a strong voice might enlist a community organizer to inform the public and bring them together. Community organizers spend time both in and out of the office, gathering and disseminating information, having large community meetings, and meeting with local political figures to promote their cause.
Community Outreach workers are typically not as politically active, as their main focus is to make sure that those is the community (for example, the homebound in need to meals delivered to their homes) are aware of what they available nonprofit services are, and are also aware of what steps they must take to receive them.
Group Home Aids
Another type of direct service job is closer to home; that is, you might want to work in a group home for people with disabilities or foster children.
Those who find nonprofit jobs in direct service in a group home might be called upon to do a variety of things. Some might work an overnight shift to ensure the safety and security of those living in the home. Others might provide career or educational counseling to the residents during the day. Supervisory and management positions are also available in group homes.
Many types or organizations organize group homes for community members, and if you are interested in a nonprofit job that puts you to work directly with people, a group home job might be for you. Like many of the jobs in this article, the salary may not be as high as other jobs in the corporate world, but in many cases, larger nonprofits will offer other benefits to compensate their workers like days off, comprehensive health benefits and tuition assistance.
Keep all of these things in mind while you are searching for a nonprofit job in direct service.