Otherwise known by a variety of names, including the social sector, tax-exempt sector, independent sector, philanthropic sector or third sector, nonprofit organizations are formed to serve public interests instead of pursuing profits for an owner or group of investors. The majority of individuals seeking employment in the nonprofit sector are doing so to fulfill a need to serve, help others and strengthen their community. These organizations often rely heavily on the support of volunteers, but there are several job opportunities for those holding a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree that want to serve others while working in the nonprofit sector.
In the United States alone, there are over 1.2 million organizations registered as nonprofit, and they have combined revenue of nearly $621 billion each year. By definition, nonprofit organizations fall under two general categories, those that meets the needs of selects individuals and groups or the public. There are a number of smaller, nonprofits operating across the globe, but there are bigger names you’re probably more familiar with including the American Red Cross, Amnesty International, the Ford Foundation, American Civil Liberties Union, National Rifle Association and even your local Chamber of Commerce. If your passion lies with working for a nonprofit, rest assured that they’re always looking for talented, educated individuals that hold either a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in several fields.
The job prospects and description vary greatly depending on the nonprofit sector in which you’re seeking employment. For instance, you might work as a coordinator for the Girl Scouts or help handicapped individuals seeks employment at a smaller organization. A small number of online and campus-based universities offer a Bachelor’s degree in Nonprofit Management, which prepares individuals to work in the financial aspects of several organizations. Otherwise, earning a degree in Liberal Arts or Business will prepare you to work in this challenging and rewarding field.
In order to advance in many of the larger, most distinguished nonprofit organizations, many individuals find in necessary to earn a graduate degree in a number of fields. Many nonprofits are gearing up to maximize their revenues and are actively seeking those with a MBA or MPA degree from a variety of universities. Some institutions, including Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business even offer to forgive a portion of their graduate’s student loans if they pledge to work in the nonprofit sector for a given number of years.
If your intention is to work in nonprofits after graduate school, there are a number of other concentrations that will help you reach this goal. Among them is a Masters of Public Administration, which educates students how to apply their business training in the public and private sector. Many MPAs go on to find work as a grants manager or manager of philanthropic programs in a variety of nonprofit organizations. Another option is a Masters of Public Policy, which often leads to employment working for a variety of notable organizations in the nonprofit sector.
Although working for an organization that is aimed at bettering its community or the world is a noble pursuit; finding and retaining entry-level employment in a nonprofit doesn’t always provide financial stability. By their nature, several smaller nonprofits are struggling to keep their doors open, let alone pay their staff a comfortable salary. This is where the dilemma of seeking a Master’s degree with the intention of working in the nonprofit sector comes into play. Many are finding that the entry level, management or executive-level salaries offered by several nonprofit organizations isn’t capable of meeting the large financial burden in the form of student loans required to obtain a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. Many that work in the nonprofit sector joke that you’re never going to become rich working for the majority of these organizations. If your ultimate career goal is to make a difference above earning a competitive wage, nonprofit work is the right path for you.
If you find yourself having trouble keeping your bills paid working for a nonprofit organization, and are forced to seek employment in the private sector, you can still let your education benefit your community by becoming a volunteer. Nonprofits are always looking for seasoned professionals and enthusiastic post-graduates to give up their valuable time in order to further their worthwhile cause.
This guest post article was written and provided by Becky Whittman. Becky finished her Bachelor’s degree this last fall, and is now working towards an Emergency Management Mastersdegree.