I thought this was a particularly cogent article posted on Idealist.org, which is a site that is not easy for me to compliment given that out of seemingly hundreds of applications, I can recall landing only a handful of jobs I originally saw posted there (and only one was full time).
Nonetheless, I have worked enough in the nonprofit sector to consider myself someone with an opinion worth hearing. Here are a few takeaways from six years of service to the cause:
- Do not attempt a career in the nonprofit sector if you are not passionate about the work: The pay and benefits are typically insufficient to serve as adequate incentives to compensate for what will likely be long hours and numerous tasks and responsibilities.
- Do not expect stability or security. Even outside the nonprofit sector, today’s economy isn’t like the 1950s when someone without a college degree could work at the same firm for 30 years and retire with a pension. A willingness to suffer through salary cuts, staff changes, setbacks, stretches of unemployment, and chronic uncertainty is essential for survival.
- Do develop a wide variety of skills and competencies. It is common to be understaffed in the nonprofit sector; therefore, managers seek to hire jacks-of-all-trades to compensate. Don’t think that just because your job description is limited to publicity and marketing that you won’t be asked to do tech support, for example.
- Do be creative, innovative, and bold. While it’s true that many nonprofits, particularly the larger ones, resemble corporations, there are many that reject the 9-to-5, insipid, Office Space-like paradigm that so many of us despise. The nonprofit sector is reliably flexible compared to other sectors.