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How to Break Into Nonprofits?

Many people are looking to make the changeover from the for-profit world into nonprofit work.

Two of the primary ways to position yourself for nonprofit employment are:

  • Volunteering for a nonprofit.  Not only will it give you a sense of how nonprofits operate, but will show a commitment to mission.  And if you've been a volunteer - whether it's as a Little League Coach, a scoutmaster, a fundraiser, etc. - make sure you highlight that to potential employers
  • Join a Board.  The big proviso is that you join for the right reason - to serve a mission you believe in - and not because it's fodder for your resume.
  • Think about the arrogance factor.   If you believe that your for-profit experience makes you superior to those in the nonprofit sector, that will come through.  If you don't recognize that nonprofit organizations are staffed by highly qualified professionals who have made a conscious career choice, you do not belong there.

At the same time, we encourage those hiring at nonprofits to consider those for profit folks whose life experience indicates that they can bring the same passion to the work as you do; along with solid skills nonprofits can use.

From the blog

Making the Band-Aid Stick

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on 11 October 2019, 11:18 am

One of the enjoyable debates I have with students, and those who are philanthropically minded, is about addressing root causes vs. applying band-aids.  It often flows from a mention of Andrew Carnegie and his philosophy on giving and the responsibilities of the wealthy, much of which is laid out in his “The Gospel of Wealth.”  His thinking makes it easy to jump to the question of whether to fund organizations that work at eradicating the root causes of society’s problems or those that provide band-aids to treat the consequences of those problems. I would argue that there is no right.

Read the full post.