Each year more and more nonprofits are formed, and more and more young idealists wonder if they would like to work for a nonprofit. Here are some things to consider before jumping in.
If you like to set and meet goals, it can be frustrating to work for a nonprofit. You won’t be able to measure your performance in daily sales or any of the traditional business world benchmarks, and chances are you’ll work in an office and not see the day-to-day difference that the programs make, either. For many nonprofit staff, job performance is a matter of having faith in the big picture.
You might never reach your full earning potential. Nonprofit staff are as a rule incredibly educated and hard-working, which makes for a vibrant co-worker environment full of bright individuals who could be making much more dough in the for-profit world.
You will eat, sleep, and breathe fundraising. Even if your nonprofit makes life a little easier for everyone by hiring professional fundraisers, all employees are expected to pull their weight. That means constantly networking with the objective of hitting prospects up for donations, planning fundraising events, keeping meticulous records of how grant money was used, and endlessly tracking client outcomes and other statistics for future requests.
You’re going to be doing some of the most high-stakes work around. You could make the critical difference that allows a drug-addicted teen to get clean – or stand by as he shuts the door on that possibility forever. If you love the challenge and satisfaction of doing truly life-changing work, working for a nonprofit just may be for you.
You will deepen and broaden your skill set. The vast majority of nonprofits are small- to medium-sized, enthusiastic about putting the knowledge you come in with – whether it’s teaching the violin or running social media campaigns – to good use. You will quickly gain responsibilities in your area of expertise and will have the opportunity to leave your mark on your organization and the people it serves. On the other hand, nonprofits also value well-roundedness and flexibility, and will invest in training you in new skills so that you can become even more of an asset.
You will rub shoulders with very interesting people. Unlike most corporations, nonprofits eschew hierarchy and stiff protocol. After all, you’re all working together toward a cause you passionately believe in. This means that not only will your hot shot executive director and community pillar board members take a personal interest in you, but they will happily introduce you to any famous guests at the fundraising gala.
You can get your student loans forgiven. If you work full-time for a nonprofit and have made at least 120 qualifying monthly repayments of your student debt, you might be able to have the entire remaining balance forgiven under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. That’s right, the entire balance – talk about an amazing deal!
There’s a reason why the government is willing to part with it’s hard-earned cash to give nonprofit employees a hand. Society thinks people who work for nonprofits are an awesome and important bunch! Because you’re willing to make some sacrifices to your career, those who desperately need help have a place to turn to. Seeing people’s faces light up when you tell them what you do is one of the great perks of working for a nonprofit.