Working at a nonprofit organization can be one of the most rewarding paths that someone can take. That being said, the industry can also be incredibly frustrating to navigate. The level of burnout is high in the nonprofit sector, however, you’ll also have the opportunity for truly fulfilling work beside some of the kindest people you’ll ever meet.
The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, however, there are a few things to consider when deciding if working at a nonprofit is for you.
Work environments can be frustrating. There are often fewer resources at nonprofits and the rate of change can be very slow. If you’re coming from a for-profit establishment this can be especially vexing. You may have to handle outdated technology and a lot of bureaucratic red tape because there are many more factors that go into every decision made at a charity organization. Due to the fact that many people enter the workforce of a nonprofit with a specific mission in mind burnout rates can be high. When you’ve placed a weight on your shoulders about the purpose of your work it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself and don’t lose sight of all the good work you’re doing to improve lives or promote a cause.
The focus is constantly on fundraising. Instability is the norm at a nonprofit. Sources of funding, conditions, and policies can all change quickly. Having strong public speaking skills will help immensely. There is constant pressure to ensure the location of the next fundraised or donated dollar. It’s important to be able to articulate clearly the purpose that the nonprofit serves and have knowledge of the communities that are being reached. Don’t expect to raise funds if you don’t have a clear grasp of the organization’s mission. It’s equally important to be aware of how funds are allocated. A good charity takes accountability and provides the public with transparency on what goes on with the funds raised and the success of their outreach.
There are also a plethora of advantages to being involved in a nonprofit. The industry is filled with interesting people from all walks of life. While corporations rarely give opportunities to interact with the heads of the company the structure of nonprofits is very different. There is a smaller community and much less hierarchial making it easier to receive feedback, appreciation, and learning opportunities.
Nonprofits are always looking for employees that can multi-task and shift skill sets quickly. You have the chance to wear many hats and can gain experience in areas that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to in the for-profit world. By learning new skills you can in turn, gain confidence and develop professionally in a manner that doesn’t exist in any other sector. Furthermore, there are many people employed at nonprofits that began their careers in a completely different industry. Working beside professionals from a wide range of industries can help to frame your perspective of your own career trajectory.
With both the pros and cons in mind, a career in nonprofits can be incredibly satisfying. The reward is in the relationships built around work that makes a difference throughout your community and the world.