Why work for a nonprofit organization?

Published: Tuesday 17th August 2021

National Nonprofit Day (August 17th) is a holiday that recognizes the hard work that nonprofit establishments do for the wider community. In true Zoek fashion, we thought we’d celebrate by raising awareness of the cause and what you can do to get involved!

Working for a nonprofit organization (NPO) sometimes comes with a few labels. Low salary, long hours, unnecessary stress. The list goes on. This, however, could not be further from the truth. Nonprofits are some of the largest companies in the US, collectively spending $2 trillion per year. And yet, these companies seem to get tarnished with the same brush. So, why work for a nonprofit? Continue reading below to find out more, or being your journey to working for a nonprofit by browsing zoek.us

man helps out elderley people by delivering to their door

Benefits of nonprofit work

Let’s be honest, if you are looking for a quick fix, then nonprofits aren’t for you. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Most NPOs (the good ones at least) have a mission statement to impact a cause in the long run, be it child poverty, homelessness, or cancer research. This means curating ongoing projects to combat issues that cannot be ‘solved’ but prevented with ongoing fundraising and research. This is beneficial to those who work in the organization, as their work will never be truly done and the job security in nonprofits is therefore high.

NPOs are always asking for volunteers, so another plus to working for a nonprofit is that it is quite easy to get your foot in the door. As a result, NPOs tend to have fewer employees compared to for-profit companies, so it is also easier to advance your career. You will also find that your employers will appreciate your efforts more.

If you have been through higher education, it can be quite difficult to find a job coming out of college. Some of the best degrees for nonprofit work include:

  • Business management 
  • Nonprofit management
  • Healthcare
  • Law
  • Education

Nonprofits are a good area to use the above degrees to gain experience in the workplace. For example, if you have a degree in education, you may utilize this to run seminars and workshops regarding your NPO’s mission. This will also give you extra content for your resume which will look good to future employers.

Areas that nonprofits specialize in

Most NPOs have a cause that most people identify or sympathize with. This is why you may see organizations that look after people’s health, animal welfare, poverty, youth development, or equal opportunities. It is likely that if you are searching for work in a nonprofit organization you probably care about one of the above causes or something similar. It can therefore be very rewarding and continually interesting, meaning your job satisfaction will remain higher for longer. Some of the US’ most famous institutions are nonprofits, and you may be familiar with some of them, such as:

  • American Red Cross (humanitarian)
  • Feeding America (food banks)
  • Salvation Army (humanitarian)
  • YMCA (youth)
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (poverty, education, and health)

These barely scratch the surface, however, and you will find a further 1.5 million nonprofit organizations across the US that are ready for your help. 

Woman working for a nonprofit healthcare charity

Disadvantages of working for a nonprofit

If you are asking yourself, ‘why work for a nonprofit’, consider what you might gain from it. If you are not naturally a selfless person you may struggle. For example:

  • The work environment can be tolling. You will find that in an effort to cut costs, NPOs may use outdated technology or practices which can make your day-to-day tasks difficult to complete. This will feel like you are performing miracles, but it does mean the work can be tricky when you have fewer resources.
  • Constant focus on fundraising. It can be stressful when working for a nonprofit organization when you are worrying where the next funds will come from, as this may be dependent on the success of an event or general charitable trends.
  • Benchmarks of success are not always obvious. Employees in nonprofit organizations sometimes have to simply trust without any true metrics that the work they are doing on a daily basis is contributing to a larger, more important cause. This can be degrading when you don’t see results for yourself.

Get out and be the difference!

The biggest challenge most NPOs face is staffing and funding. Often it can be by very small margins. Working for a nonprofit may therefore be the difference between its success and failure. So if you are in two minds and are wondering ‘why work for a nonprofit’, consider that they may need you more than you need them, and perhaps you are applying because you want the change. You can search ‘work for a nonprofit near me’ to find out who your local NPOs are.

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