Imagine you're at a dinner party, and you're going around the table asking everyone what they do.
"I'm an investment banker."
"I'm in advertising."
"I work for a nonprofit."
The word "nonprofit" can garner some pretty quick judgments. Maybe this person is an idealistic do-gooder that doesn't understand how reality works. Maybe this person has a handsome trust fund and can happily live on a subterranean salary for the rest of their lives. But before the judgments start flying, many people at some point in their lives consider the nonprofit route. Here's why you might want to, too.
A nonprofit, contrary to popular belief, is not exempt from making a profit. The term means that it doesn't distribute revenue to private investors or owners, but instead puts that money towards perpetuating the mission. These organizations include everything from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), to the American Museum of Natural History, to the American Cancer Society. They span in category from arts and culture to history to medicine. Whatever sector you're interested in, there's probably a nonprofit out there that would align.
Perhaps the most important aspect of finding any job that you will stick with for a long time is having a sense of purpose. Many people feel burnt out from corporate America because they don't have the opportunity to contribute to the greater good of the world beyond "profit." That's a reason to get up and go every morning: to know that you are helping someone who needs it.
It's also possible to make a competitive salary while working for a nonprofit. While it's unlikely at first, it's not impossible. Many people shy away from nonprofits because they don't think they will be able to make a living. However, your nonprofit job does not have to be your only source of income. We compiled a list of high-paying odd jobs that can help you supplement your salary.
While people that work for nonprofits are not all going to be angelic all the time, they share a common mission. Inspiration is one of the most powerful forces in any workplace. Many people that work for nonprofits are personally connected to the subject matter, and therefore they are more engaged and motivated to do more.
If you're working for a small nonprofit, there will likely be a lot of opportunity to grow and develop your career. Whereas in a larger company, you might be confined to your original job requirements, nonprofits have a spirit of collaboration on all aspects of business operations. You may find that you discover a new skill or talent that you'd like to pursue. Some nonprofits can give you the flexibility to learn on the job.
While not all nonprofits are the same (yes, there will office politics and a hierarchy), it might be the right route if you're looking to branch out your skills for a good cause. It's not only service work, too. There are plenty of opportunities to find jobs that mirror corporate life in the nonprofit world. Be creative.