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Nonprofit Management

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Careers in Nonprofit Management

Nonprofit institutions play an important role in community life and are an integral part of the economic, political, and social structure of our nation. Certainly its most distinguishing characteristic is that nonprofits do not attempt to make a profit. Instead, their primary goal is to advance, advocate, or pursue a cause central to the organization’s existence and mission. These missions can range from women’s rights in the United States to third-world economic development. Workdays in nonprofit organizations are often long, with financial rewards not always matching effort or responsibility. Furthermore, many nonprofits face a continual crisis of resources.

Career Paths

The nonprofit sector offers multiple employment options for Master’s degree graduates. Examples of job titles include: Assistant Director of Fundraising, Program Analyst, Program Director, Program Officer, Marketing/Research Associate, Director, Community Outreach Coordinator, Finance Director, Director of Information Systems and Director of Public Relations. It is possible to be hired as an Executive Director of a small organization.

Following the entry level, one may assume positions of increasing responsibility in functional areas, program or service delivery, and/or general management. Primary job functions can include working with a Board of Directors, public and community groups, fundraising, media, clients and other nonprofit organizations. Career advancement depends on the size and mission of each nonprofit, as well as your dedication to the organization. There are unlimited opportunities to jump from the nonprofit sector to the private and public/government sectors because of continuous interaction with institutions in these areas. Probable career outcomes are Senior Executive Director, Program Manager, Government Affairs, or equivalent positions in the private and public sectors.

Qualifications Necessary

A Master’s degree in Public Affairs or a specialized degree in nonprofit management is usually needed as well as a strong interest in the issues related to the mission of the nonprofit organization. It is helpful to gain professional or volunteer experience with related nonprofit organizations, and it is expected that candidates have excellent oral and written communication skills. Because these organizations are often involved in planning large events and activities, it is desirable that employees have experience in motivating, training, and supervising others. Due to budget constraints that non-profits often face, it is necessary to work creatively with limited human and financial resources. Overseas experience and proficiency in a foreign language are often needed for effective work in many international nonprofit organizations.

For more information on working in a nonprofit, be sure to check out the FREE e-book, "Idealist Guide to Nonprofit Careers for First-Time Jobseekers."

Potential Employers

Online Jobsearch Resources – General

*Anyone searching for jobs or internships in the nonprofit field should be sure to check out Idealist.org!*

Additional Online Resources

Associations/Websites