The Nonprofit Job World
Positions and Skills Sought
Like any organization that operates in a public arena with both money and a mission, nonprofit organizations need public relations specialists, marketing managers, comptrollers, program officers, meeting planners, accountants, bookkeepers, librarians, office managers, computer specialists, community organizers, education and communication specialists, publicists, researchers, writers, editors, lobbyists, word processors and mailroom personnel along with front-line specialists in particular subject areas. Because nonprofits are heavily dependent upon membership dues, contributions, grants and direct-mail sells to fund their operations, they highly prize individuals who demonstrate strong communication, public relations and fund-raising skills. If you have strong communication skills, enjoy working with the public, and feel comfortable recruiting members and asking strangers for contributions, you may be an ideal candidate for working with a nonprofit organization!
The types of jobs and skills required for nonprofit organizations will vary with the type and size of nonprofit organization. Private educational organizations, for example, disproportionately hire elementary, secondary and post-secondary teachers and administrators, similar to those in the public sector. On the other hand, museums, opera companies, symphony orchestras and theaters hire talented curators, artists, production personnel, actors and stagehands as well as both full-time and part-time administrative staff disproportionately engaged in communication and fund-raising activities. Social service organizations hire numerous professionals who provide counseling and development services. Advocacy and political groups hire a disproportionate number of public policy specialists, researchers, writers and community activists. Business and professional organizations seek communication specialists, researchers, writers, meeting planners, publicists and lobbyists. Scientific and research organizations disproportionately hire subject specialists with demonstrated research and writing skills as well as librarians. Foundations need program officers, researchers and librarians.
Regardless of the type and size of organization, most nonprofits need individuals with strong communication and fund-raising skills, because they must constantly mobilize public support for their activities. Indeed, individuals with limited work experience, but who can demonstrate strong communication skills, can organize and manage well, show a willingness to engage in critical fund-raising activities, and are enthusiastic and eager to get things done are in a strong position to land an entry-level position with a nonprofit organization.
Opportunities Closer Than You Think
While nonprofit organizations may have a low profile amongst job seekers, most people are acquainted with these organizations by means of membership or direct contacts. Indeed, you probably belong to two or three such organizations already or you regularly come into contact with them during the year. You may even be a card-carrying member.
If you belong to a church, it is most likely operated as a nonprofit organization. If it's a very large church, it will have full-time employees, from custodians and receptionists to word processors, accountants and computer specialists. It may also be affiliated with a large religious service organization, such as the Catholic Relief Services or Lutheran World Relief, which spend millions of dollars each year on overseas relief, social development and technical assistance operations.
If you belong to a labor union or a professional association, you participate in a nonprofit organization. If you're a member of the American Chemical Society or the American Bar Association, you're affiliated with two of the largest professional associations that employ hundreds of individuals.
If you donate money to the United Way, Red Cross, or the Salvation Army, you've made contact with three of the largest and most respected nonprofit organizations that provide full-time employment for thousands of individuals. The Salvation Army in particular is considered by many seasoned observers to be America's best nonprofit organization, a great model for others.
And if you sponsor a child through Childreach or the Christian Children's Fund, help the housing poor through Habitat For Humanity, enroll your child in the Girl or Boy Scouts of America, or join the American Automobile Association (AAA), the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) or the National Rifle Association (NRA) you participate in some of the largest and most effective organizations that define the nonprofit world.
Most people think of nonprofit organizations as volunteer and charitable advocacy groups, but savvy job seekers know better. The nonprofit world offers numerous job opportunities for enterprising job seekers. While many such organizations do have volunteer programs, engage in charitable activities and advocate for a particular cause, they do much more. Many of these organizations operate with large full-time staffs that handle annual budgets in excess of $25 million. Because it is a well-defined employment arena, the nonprofit world has its own employment publications and services. Best of all, during the past five years, nonprofits have begun to embrace technology and get wired via the Internet. Start with these sites:
By using the Internet, you can quickly identify hundreds of nonprofits offering thousands of job opportunities. In just a few minutes of cyber-sleuthing, you may discover the perfect job that leads to a rewarding long-term career in the nonprofit sector.
Whatever you do, don't overlook nonprofit organizations as potential employers. While they may have a low public profile amongst job seekers, they offer thousands of exciting and rewarding opportunities for individuals interested in the type of work performed by nonprofits.
Excerpted from Jobs and Careers with Non-Profit Organizations
by Ron and Caryl Krannich, PhDs
Copyright - Impact Publications 1999
Reproduced with permission from Impact Publications
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