3 Tips for Getting a Job in the Nonprofit Sector

The nonprofit sector is notoriously hard to break into. But just because it’s difficult, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. With a few helpful pointers, nearly anyone can find a career in the field.

Tip #1: Research How Nonprofit Organizations Function

Ideally, employers are looking for candidates who already have experience working in the nonprofit sector. But younger job seekers, particularly those fresh out of college, may not have this experience yet. A quick and easy way to overcome this obstacle is to research how nonprofit organizations function. Candidates should know how organizations get their funding, what the requirements are for a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and be familiar with common terms that are used in the industry.

Tip #2: Volunteer

The sooner, the better. No, seriously. Volunteer experience leaves a lasting impression with any employer, but this is especially true for those in the nonprofit sector. Candidates will have a hard time convincing employers that they are passionate about giving back to the community without the experience to back it up. Often times, college students make the mistake of waiting until after they graduate to volunteer. With only a few months of volunteer experience under their belt, it often looks like a last-ditch effort to secure a job.

Tip #3: Attend Events

The same old, worn out, cliché advice about networking holds true for the nonprofit sector just as much as it does for any other industry. A great way to start building those connections is by attending events, whether that’s a fundraising event or a conference. Not only does it show a high level of interest and engagement, but it also shows dedication. Plus, nothing beats being able to talk to someone face-to-face. In a world where an average of 118 people apply for a single job, it’s critical that applicants set themselves apart in some way.

Resources The Power of Giving

Become an Everyday Philanthropist

You work hard and you play hard. But some sense of satisfaction seems to be missing from you life. What could it be? Perhaps you need to consider the art of philanthropy. Giving to others in need, an institution you support, or a cause that concerns you is at the heart of philanthropy. And here’s the best news yet—you don’t need to be a millionaire to practice philanthropy.

Start with a personal inventory. First things first, schedule a quiet time to reflect on your passions, interests and which social issues you trouble you. Use this period of reflection to identify institutions you use like the YWCA, a local museum, or community health clinic. If you don’t know where to begin—start in your own backyard. Read local papers, check out the bulletin board at your favorite coffeehouse, ask friends, family or faith leader for suggestions. But you must schedule this time. If you don’t make a date to do this initial work you may never find the time to become a philanthropist.

Philanthropy is all about giving but it’s not only about giving money. You can give your time by volunteering. You can give your skills by tutoring. You can give your experience by leading organizing a fundraising event.

Sometimes giving you time isn’t enough. Money may be required to solve a dire problem like natural disaster relief or to provide funds for a food bank in crisis.

How do you find funds to donate when your funds are allocated for your monthly bills and personal savings? Well, the first thing you never do is to go into debt. A successful philanthropist needs to have peace of mind and give only when they budget their gift. Get into debt and you’ve become the problem that needs to be solved—not the solution you hoped to provide.

A practical way to generate some funds is to conduct a personal inventory. Take a tour around you home paying special attention to closets, basements, attics, junk drawers, and the space under the bed. Chances are that you have far more possessions than you actually use and that many of these items haven’t been used in several years. Consider asking a friend to join you in this process. They don’t have your sentimental attachments to items and the will help make rational decisions in favor of philanthropy.

Set up four piles—one to sell, one to donate, one to keep, and one to recycle. Remember to recycle. Don’t donate items that are broken or ripped; only donate useable items. The end result of this process will be hard cash to support a worthy cause and an uncluttered living space filled with light. Sell the items at your own yard sale or rent a table at a local flea market for larger crowds.

What other ways do you practice being an everyday philanthropist?