Working in a field one loves is a key to a satisfying career. Making a difference and feeling a sense of accomplishment each day can make going to work easier and more enjoyable. Working in the nonprofit sector fuels such feelings for millions of people each day.
According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations are registered in the United States. Imagine Canada says that there are an estimated 170,000 nonprofits and charities in Canada.
Philanthropic groups are staffed by millions of people, offering a vast array of job opportunities. In Canada, the nonprofit sector represents around 8 percent of the country's gross domestic product, making the nonprofit sector larger than the country's automotive or manufacturing industries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that, as of 2012, nonprofits accounted for 11.4 million jobs and 10.3 percent of all private sector employment. The District of Columbia, New York and Rhode Island are three areas of the country with the highest shares of nonprofit employment.
Nonprofit organizations offer many of the same types of positions as commercial companies. Because many nonprofit groups are small, those who work in philanthropy may be able to get hands-on experience in a short time, with the opportunity to move up the ladder faster. Furthermore, nonprofit workers often wear many hats, gaining valuable experience in different areas that can benefit their careers going forward. Here are a few of the positions available in the nonprofit sector.
• Grantmaking: Many nonprofits raise money for the express purpose of directing grants to address specific community needs. Those who work in this field may be part of a board that decides on the grant applications and the allocation of funds.
• Foundation board: Those with great managerial skills may find work on a foundation board. The board has the responsibility to manage the foundation, set the direction and mission and approve grants.
• Fundraising/donor relations: Well-oiled nonprofits typically have a top-notch staff of fundraisers who are responsible for bringing in the capital to run the nonprofit. Fundraising often involves pavement canvasing and networking.
• Administration: Nonprofits rely on a team of administrative professionals to keep things running smoothly. Such positions include assistants, receptionists, office managers, computer IT teams, and human resources professionals.
• Research team: Groups that work with emerging issues need to stay on top of the latest research and developments. Researchers investigate data and write reports to keep the nonprofit in the know.
Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy suggests those who want a career in philanthropy should brush up on the jargon of the industry. Attending nonprofit events to network, seeking out mentors, and advertising one's skills are other ways to gain entry into the nonprofit sector.