Consider a Career in the Nonprofit Sector
Finding employment in the Nonprofit or Nongovernmental sector is somewhat complicated, for many of these organizations and agencies rely on volunteers, and therefore employment trends differ by organization. Nonprofit (NP) and Nongovernmental (NG) organizations differ on where they receive their funds and the size of the organization determines how many employees can be hired for compensation.
When searching for a job within the NPO sector, keep in mind a cause you would be passionate about. With more than 70,000 new nonprofits forming each year, there is sure to be a number of organizations all working to promote a cause which you could both support and market your educational and career experience towards. With so many organizations forming, the sector has seen an increased demand for NPO managers and staff.
Nonprofits by Activity Type:
|Culture and Recreation||museums, zoos and aquariums, sports, service and social clubs|
|Education and Research||primary, secondary and higher education, medical/science/technology or policy research, vocational/technical schools, continuing/adult education|
|Health||hospitals and rehabilitation, nursing homes, mental health and crisis intervention|
|Social Services||emergency relief, income support and maintenance, refugee support|
|Environment||pollution abatement and control, natural resources conservation and protection|
|Development and Housing||economic, social and community development, housing, employment and training|
|Law, Advocacy, and Politics||civic advocacy organizations, legal services, political organizations|
|Philanthropic Intermediaries||grant-making foundations, fundraising|
|International Activities||exchange/friendship/cultural programs, development assistance associations, international disaster relief organizations, and international human rights and peace organizations|
|Religion||religious congregations and associations|
|Business||business and professional associations, unions|
*Compiled from Anheier, Helmut, Nonprofit Organizations: Theory, Management, Policy (New York, NY: Routledge, 2005).
Nonprofits have a different hiring cycle from that of the business and government sectors. Most nonprofits hire as they begin to plan for the upcoming fiscal year end typically June or September 30th. These positions generally will be posted towards the beginning/middle of the Spring Semester, though openings appear year round when position becomes available (this is called just-in-time hiring—meaning an organization cannot afford to hire too far out given fiscal constraints).
Additionally, many nonprofits, due to financial constraints, will only post jobs on their websites and local free job boards so it is vital to identify organizations you are interested in and visit their website regularly. Additionally, many of these organizations will post openings on Facebook, Twitter, and/or LinkedIn.
Guidelines for students looking for jobs in the nonprofit sector:
- Research and identify 10-20 organizations you would like to work for
- Follow these organizations on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn; bookmark their HR page and set alerts if available
- Volunteer at and/or attend events sponsored by these organizations
- Use the LinkedIn to identify Wellesley Alumnae who work in a field or position you are interested in
- Conduct informational interviews
- Join professional associations and/or student groups such as the Young Nonprofits Professionals Network (YNPN) or the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP)
- Update your MyCWS profile to indicate you interest in the nonprofit sector
- Visit the CWS to review resumes, basic cover letters, and LinkedIn profile
- Check back to organizations’ HR pages frequently
- Apply within a week or two of when a job is posted (nonprofit hiring processes generally move quickly)
- Re-engage your personal network, inform to engage network—past colleagues and coworkers that they are actively looking
- Continue targeted informational interviews
- Attend local association events and networking opportunities
- Network on LinkedIn groups
- Visit the CWS to review resumes and cover letters for individual positions
In addition to positions posted on MyCWS, there are many job boards those considering careers in nonprofits should consult. The following resources include several prominent job boards, industry papers, and research tools useful to those entering the field. This is by no means a comprehensive list, rather a sampling compiled by the CWS staff of useful sites.
|Idealist||Idealist is a nonprofit job posting board. Run by Action Without Borders, Idealist is a platform that allows nonprofit organizations to post event information, volunteering opportunities, and jobs.|
|Commongood Careers||Commongood Careers is a nonprofit executive search firm, based in Boston, supporting the hiring needs of the nation's leading nonprofits and social innovators. Commongood’s job postings range from entry level to executive. Additionally their Knowledge center is an excellent resource for information about the nonprofit hiring processes.|
|democraticGAIN||democraticGain is a national membership association for progressive political professionals and organizations. In addition to career counseling, online trainings, and networking opportunities they host a popular job board.|
|GuideStar||GuideStar is an excellent resource to research nonprofits particularly in relation to the financial stability of individual organizations.|
|Nonprofit Oyster||Nonprofit Oyster is a popular job board used by nonprofit. Nonprofit Oyster also provides a system for multiple job alerts.|
|PublicServiceCareers.org||PublicServiceCareers.org posts jobs in federal, state, county, and local government; nonprofit organizations and associations; think tanks and research organizations; academia; consulting; and the private sector.|
|The Bridgespan Group||The Bridgespan Group is a nonprofit advisor and resource for mission-driven organization and philanthropists. Their services include strategy consulting, leadership development, philanthropy advising, and developing and sharing practical insights.|
|The Chronicle of Philanthropy||The Chronicle of Philanthropy is a news source for charity leaders, fundraisers, grant makers, and others involved in philanthropic enterprises. The site includes an active job board as well as extensive information on the industry.|
|The Nonprofit Times||The Nonprofit Times is a publication for the nonprofit management community. It can serve as a valuable research tool of cutting edge organization as well as an active job board.|
|Hire Culture||Hire Culture is a searchable database of cultural employment opportunities throughout Massachusetts. The database is offered by the Massachusetts Cultural Council and primarily focuses on employment opportunities within nonprofit arts, science, and humanities organizations in Massachusetts.|