In honor of Nonprofit Career Month, and since I deal with nonprofits all day, I’ll take a stab of what it takes to be in nonprofits.
This is a unique time for a nonprofit employee and job seeker. The economy is still recovering from the recession, but nonprofits are laying off and eliminating jobs to save costs. However, there are plenty who want to come into the nonprofit world but don’t know how. Here are the three questions you must ask yourself:
The first question is what is your motivation. You must have a purpose of why you’re going to nonprofits. Please do not say that you want to go to nonprofits for the sake of it. In nonprofits, there are numerous choices to go work for nonprofits from the environment, education, civil rights, jobs, even Furry Animal Mascots. The point here is have a focus on what you want to do and if its money, then work for a for-profit company (unless you want to make money digital and paperless, then there’s an organization for that, I think).
The second question you must ask is do you have the threshold to be in the nonprofit sector. Remember that nonprofits don’t pay well and work long hours on occasion. Can you take being underpaid but also take steps to budget yourself for the year? Can you move closer to your workplace? What about alternative transportation? Eat out or go organic? Do I want to start a family? All these questions (and more) must be answer and plan ahead.
The third and final question is do you have the skill set and dedication to move into nonprofits. Every skill set can be transferable from all sectors, but can you be 100% committed to a new area? Although skill sets transfer, the rules, procedures, and environment change. Basically it is asking: Are you willing to convert from evil to good?
If your answer is that you still want to work for nonprofits, then act like a nonprofiteer and be proactive. Go volunteer to events that you want to attend, attend networking events for a good cause (like Twestival), find people through social media since most nonprofiteers are there, and find people who know how nonprofits operate in their area (HR, Finance, Programs). To give you a head start, here are the Nonprofit Millennial Bloggers Alliance.
In a nonprofit career, you have to be 100% committed and dedicated on what you’re doing and anything less than that, try to find another profession. There are many causes to work or join; you just have to find something that gets you motivated for your own reason to make your nonprofit career work.