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Nonprofit Jobs: How to Make Your Career Meaningful

Posted on the 25 March 2012 by Classycareergirl @classycareer

Today, Christina Inge, a marketing professional and volunteer at multiple organizations and charities, is going to share with us what it is like to have a career at a non-profit organization.

With the economy slowly rebounding and hiring on the uptick, you may be getting out of hunker-down mode and thinking about what your next career move is going to be. You also might be looking at ways to make your career more meaningful. Finding ways to combine a smart career trajectory with the causes you hold dear is another way to give back for the practical and time-strapped young career gal.

Small Organization, Big Impact

Working in nonprofits can often be a wonderful career development opportunity for women, especially early- or mid-career professionals. The small size of many of these organizations, coupled with the strong need to maximize their resources, means that you can wear many hats, take on extra responsibility, and make a real impact. It’s especially true for digital natives, who can often take their above-average tech skills and quickly build social media channels, implement new ways of serving constituents, and build long-lasting sponsorship programs, often on a shoestring. Essentially, it’s the same work you might be doing at a startup, only the bottom line is not just financial, but social or cultural. Pay can often be comparable, too—that is, below market average, but with a wide range depending on size and funding sources. It pays to look around for management roles that will build skills, such as team leadership and budget management, that will translate well to the corporate world. That way, you’ll get the full benefit of your time of doing social sector work. And you may find that you stay in the space, growing into ever-larger organizations. Either way, taking a senior management role at a nonprofit is like an MBA in the skills they don’t teach you in school: maximizing budgets, building alliances among organizations, and balancing multiple stakeholders’ interests. It’s solid preparation for any path in life, social, public, or corporate.

Checking It Out

What if you’re not ready to take the complete plunge into nonprofits? If you’re among the many still hit by the recession, and looking more to fill the gap in your resume with meaningful work? Perhaps you want to see if a career in the nonprofit sector is really for you, and want to test the waters while your options are still open. Check out idealist.org, a jobs site that includes both paid and volunteer positions. Search for both—you may find your next career move in one of the professional, paid roles. If not, taking a day or two a week to volunteer not only gives you additional experience, but keeps you feeling employed. Also check out LinkedIn, and follow your favorite locally-based causes on Twitter, since they may post openings there first. Whether you’re looking for a career move or to volunteer, make sure the mission and goals of the organizations strongly match your own beliefs—passion for the cause is often the deciding criteria for candidates, especially at the higher levels.

Finding a Fit

Whatever your favorite cause, and your profession, there’s likely a job that pairs both in an appealing role.  Many early-career women find that working for nonprofits is the best way to walk the talk of their beliefs, explore their creative sides, and work alongside with some great, passionate people. As you look for your next move up, don’t overlook the possibilities of a social-good career.

Have you ever worked for a non-profit organization?

Note: This post was written in association with ableBanking.  ableBanking is an online-only savings program that gives better rates, no fees – and one more thing: money to give to any charity you choose. For every new customer, ableBanking gives $25 to any 501c3 organization a customer designates, as well as an additional percentage of savings, on each account, every year. The model is simple – instead of spending countless resources on physical branches and advertising, ableBanking is investing their resources into providing its customers with no fee accounts, higher interest rates and money to give to the nonprofit organizations that make our communities better. Find out more at ableBanking.com. Together we are able to make saving better.


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