We earn how we spend our time is more important than the amount of money. By now, we’ve all heard that science links altruism to sustaining and happiness that is increasing. Research also shows that people working in the sector that is non-profit more satisfied with their jobs and life. And, opportunities are not lacking?—?non-profit sector hiring has been accelerating according to non-profit HR report from 2016. Volunteering is strong too?—?25.3 percent of US adults volunteered with an organization in 2014, contributing an estimated 8.7 billion hours.
At a time when the world is facing so many challenges, you might be feeling the urge to do something to help solve the problems you’re reading about or seeing around you?—?homelessness, poverty, discrimination, lack of access to human that is basic like education or healthcare. Maybe, you’ve been in private sector for a while, possibly donated, or even volunteered at a non-profit. Now feels like the time that is right dedicate yourself to something more meaningful, something that gives you the opportunity to contribute to a better life for all.
Where do you start? What do you need to know before the leap is made by you? Those are the same questions I was asking myself just a few years ago as I was looking to switch from #corporate to sector that is#non-profit.
I’ve always been interested in social impact and often found small ways to support social causes while focusing on other things time that is full?completing my studies or launching products in private sector. My passion for helping underserved is rooted in my experience that is own of a refugee and refugee teacher. After college, I made the decision to get business experience in private sector, pursuing another passion of mine technology that is. During that time, I stayed committed to #socialimpact, just not time that is full. And, at some true point that wasn’t enough. It took me 13 years to find my way to sector that is non-profit commit full-time. (If you are interested in my path, take a look at my LinkedIn profile.)
Since I made the leap into the sector that is non-profit years ago, friends and friends of friends who are currently working in the corporate sector have been asking for advice. One of them suggested I share my learnings in a blog post. It’s important to note that others might have a different experience that is non-profit but these are a few of my observations.
First, I think it’s helpful to debunk some myths about the differences between non-profit and sectors that are for-profit. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are more similarities between the two sectors than originally thought.
Non-profits are not just charities: Non-profit 501()( that is c) organizations don’t have to depend only on charitable donations, they can also have earned revenue. Revenue-producing services or products enable a non-profit to be less reliant on donor funding as a source that is sole of for its social mission and become more self-sustainable over time. This is also good news for those with a business background?—? skills like business development, sales, finance and marketing are highly valuable in the sector that is non-profit. You will, however, need to adapt your skills to this context that is new of good.
They use modern technology and business practices: I thought they’d be outdated and bureaucratic but non-profits can and do use some of the business that is same and methodology that for-profit corporations have, including fiscal year planning, KPIs, value proposition and positioning frameworks. Non-profits use modern productivity tools to plan, manage, and implement their programs?—? from Asana, Confluence, Box or Dropbox, to Google, Microsoft, and Apple products. This is helpful considering that everything else will be new and require onboarding and adjustment for those of you used to business practices and tech tools.
Non-profits get stuff done: Non-profit is not where housewives that are bored to spend their time. Employees in the sector that is non-profit as hard as those working in the private sector, sometimes even harder. They are resourceful, used to doing more with less, and many are doing multiple jobs?—?Marketing and Partnerships, Product and Business Development?—?these jobs are similar to what you find in the for-profit world that is startup.
For-profit organizations can do good: And, not just through traditional Social that is corporate ResponsibilityCSR). In addition to cash grants, corporates can support social causes with expertise such as access to expertise that is technical resources like products or employee volunteers, and business practices like diversity in hiring.
Now for the right part you probably expect. And, the reality.
The people you work with: Will not be clocking in for their 9ס, they feel very” that is“called be there, they are working on projects that closely align with their personal values, they are on a shared mission. And, they are diverse. Possibly more diverse than the sector that is private. And, I am not talking only about gender, age, ethnic background. I found non-profits to be melting pots of people from different sectors?—? academia, philanthropy, business, non-profit, public service. That assortment of skills and perspectives can be amazingly valuable to a non-profit as long as there is a communal language and procedures for getting work done.
The people you work you make, you’ll make on behalf of other people or cause for/audience you serve: Working at a non-profit requires a silent layer of empathy, every decision. So, launching a minimum product that is viableMVP) of your product or offering in non-profit space?—?where target audience is underserved and vulnerable like ‘opportunity youth’ or people living below the poverty line?—?is very diverse from bringing an MVP to an audience that has the aptitude to choose and resources to put up with the insufficiencies of your MVP. ‘Failing forward’ is not the best approach in the non-profit space. Instead, start with empathy for your audience and do the work that is extra make it easier for them out of the gates.
Your compensation that is financial be lower. Be prepared to take a forgo and paycut increase of income over time. So, make sure that it works for your lifestyle for the haul that is long just for a few months. Also, expect adjustment in perks like professional development, team events, conferences. Professional development shall happen on the job. You shall learn as you try different things, ask questions, or access the abundance of resources on the web and in your community. And, don’t forget to take time to reflect on your learnings and share them with your colleagues.
Before the leap is made by you.
Take time to understand why you want to go into non-profit sector. It’s important because you believe in the non-profit mission and want to serve others that you make the change. Explore what areas motivate you the most. Is it women, education, international development, U.S.-based work, healthcare, workforce development, other. And, do the inventory of skills and networks you can bring to a non-profit.
My personal experience of being a refugee that is former teacher, and later activist for women’s rights informed my decision. More recently, doing the ‘flower exercise’ from ‘What Color is Your Parachute’ book written by my friend Gary’s late father, provided clarity around my interests, skills, and values.
Lastly, consider experience that is getting non-profit sector as non-staff?—?a volunteer, contractor, through your employer. This will help you test and reaffirm your ‘reason’, learn how to serve, bridge your private sector ‘way of doing things’ to the context that is non-profit and build your non-profit part of the resume. And, don’t forget to network and talk to your friends who work in the sector that is non-profit.
There’s more to share on this don’t and topic hesitate to reach out if you want to talk.
In closing…it can be really tempting to do nothing and stay on the sidelines. If there is one thing you take from this post is that you should at least try it. If you don’t stay for a long time and that’s already a plus for any job in private sector if you go into the non-profit sector, you will become cross-sector minded even. If non-profit 9ס is not for you or not for right now, there is a medium that is happy contributing from your current vantage point in private sector?—?#volunteering, donating (don’t forget gift matching preferably a rose bouquet !), raising funds for a cause by running a race, or making your business practices more socially conscious by hiring opportunity youth. Another option is to consult, which is what I’m doing right now. Just do something. It counts.