Why Work for a Nonprofit? Understanding the Advantages of these Organizations

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You’re interested in business but not so sure about the impact a corporate environment might have on you and your family. You want to be able to put your family values first, but still not give up on your career aspirations.

You may have considered working for a nonprofit, but just don’t know much about them. As a busy parent, you’re already juggling family, work and maybe even an education program. It’s natural to wonder, “Why work for a nonprofit?” So we’ve done the work for you. Learn more about nonprofits, the benefits of working for them and why so many people want to work for them. 

First, what is a nonprofit?

A nonprofit organization is just as the name suggests, not for profit. Though nonprofits can still be incredibly successful companies with in-demand products and services, they are not in business to accumulate excess funds. Often times these organizations are considered charitable and are recognized by the IRS as a 501c3 or tax-exempt.

The fact that these organizations are not in it for the profit doesn’t mean they don’t have funds to pay their employees. Nonprofits often raise funds through grants and donors, social media campaigns, events, fundraisers and sometimes sales of a product or service. But upon covering operating costs (including employee wages), a nonprofit usually donates revenue to whatever their respective cause is, be it fighting childhood cancer, caring for the homeless or preserving wildlife.

Whatever their cause, nonprofits exist as a service to society in some way, and they need good people running them. Grantmakers for Effective Organizations defines an effective nonprofit as one that “has the ability to fulfill its mission through a blend of sound management, strong governance, and a persistent rededication to achieving results.”

Why work for a nonprofit?

If you’re interested in working for a nonprofit you should know that often times, employees of a non-profit organization will make less than their for-profit counterparts. Yet the nonprofit world has plenty of sought-after jobs. See what these nonprofit professionals have to say about the reasons they work for a nonprofit and the benefits they find in their jobs.

1. Purpose

It’s been proven that humans are not just motivated by monetary reward or even recognition, but also by finding purpose in their work. At times, the sacrifice may be a somewhat smaller paycheck, but for those in nonprofit careers, it’s worth it.

“You have to be willing to trade financial gain for seeing human lives radically transformed,” says Bill Dinker, director of admissions at Discovery Place. “Not many are willing to make that trade. But the ones that do receive a sense of purpose beyond words.”

2. Variety

As a parent, you’re probably accustomed to some variety in your day. Realistically though, as an employee of a for-profit organization, you will probably be assigned one main role and seldom switch it up.

“One of the major benefits of working for a nonprofit is that you can gain hands-on experience across several different areas,” says Jacqueline Wilson, executive director of Monkey Do Project Inc.“The majority of nonprofits are small, so employees and volunteers often perform several functions and tasks across different departments/areas within the organization.”

3. Work Environment

When you consider going into any new position or field, you need to know what the work environment will be like. There’s no utopian work place, but working with others who are passionate about a cause and motivated by purpose is undoubtedly a unique environment. Though Wilson admits the work is not for the “faint of heart” he also sees that working for a cause brings a whole new element to the nine-to-five.

4. People

As you consider going into the for-profit or nonprofit spheres, you’re going to meet a lot of people. Maybe you’re the type of person who finds energy from passionate people, or maybe you have ideas and a passion of your own that you want to see come to fruition. In the nonprofit sector you will meet lots of purpose-driven people that might just be your future teammates or very close friends.

Dinker says he’s met people through nonprofits that he wouldn’t have otherwise met. “You can’t walk into a bar or a nightclub and meet these individuals, but the nonprofit space opens access to a world of purpose-driven people,” he says.

What you need next

So, why work for a nonprofit? Why not? Now that you’ve heard all about nonprofits, you know that you won’t need to sacrifice your family values or passion for meaningful work in this field. However, even in the nonprofit sector, you need to be equipped to enter a career.

Career preparedness often begins with a degree. Check out Rasmussen College’s business degree page to find a program that fits your busy life and budget, and before you know it you’ll be on the path towards purposeful work.

Megan Ruesink

Megan is a freelance writer for Collegis education who writes student-focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen College. She hopes to engage and intrigue current and potential students.


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