Having a nonprofit career certainly has many perks — the personalized staff, the growing skillsets, and the positive feeling of making a difference to name a few.
However, tracking down your ultimate dream job that offers all of those amazing opportunities (let alone competing for it) can be stressful and, at times, exhausting.
That’s why we’ve narrowed down the top three factors all nonprofit job hunters should consider to ensure your next career move aligns exactly with your personal and professional goals.
We understand that your nonprofit work means more to you than just a bi-monthly paycheck and benefits, which is why these simple yet necessary concepts are crucial for achieving happiness at your next job:
So whether you’re looking to change careers, move up in the industry, or just test out the nonprofit waters, these key facets are guaranteed to help you find your ideal nonprofit job as well as settle in to stay.
1. The Nonprofit’s Cause
At first, this idea may seem like a no-brainer seeing as most people get involved in nonprofit work to begin with because they’re passionate about a particular cause or community.
That being said, many nonprofit professionals are still searching for their ideal cause to support or, better yet, have gotten too comfortable in their existing roles to try anything else. Make sure you’re taking advantage of all the nonprofits opportunities out there by bearing these two points in mind.
Volunteer or Intern at a Local Nonprofit
If you’re just starting out in the nonprofit field, chances are that you have all of this pent-up do-gooder energy but with nowhere to direct it.
To figure which cause and community best speaks to you, try volunteering or interning at a few local nonprofits first before pursuing a part-time or full-time job in the industry.
In this way, you can develop various skills and observe the nonprofit’s organization, resources and training process. You’ll also build strong ties with nonprofit professionals which will help you lay the ground work for a long-term role with an organization.
If you’re looking for a nonprofit internship, don’t forget to utilize your high school, college, or university’s career resources to get a leg up on the competition.
Overall, it’s never a bad idea to build up volunteer experience on your resume in order to stand out against the sea of nonprofit career competition.
Learn more about volunteer opportunities with local charities and nonprofits by reviewing Fundly’s list of community services ideas.
Cast a Wide Job Search Net
A lot of the time, exceptional nonprofit job candidates will find themselves struggling because they’re holding out for just the right opportunity that ties perfectly in with their life plan.
Unfortunately, its possible that that your model nonprofit career won’t reveal itself for while and possibly hasn’t even been developed yet!
In the meantime, focus on expanding your job hunting horizons by thinking over all the ways your favorite cause can potentially overlap with others.
For example, if you’re passionate about fundraising for animal benefits, instead of limiting yourself to openings at adoption or rescue shelters, try branching off into the medical field by looking for a role at a service animal center or pet rehabilitation clinic.
This same principle also works for broadening your professional skillset to match more job possibilities.
Start by assessing the top nonprofit skills you already have under your belt — marketing, donor management, fundraising, etc, — and ask yourself what skills you’re looking to grow instead.
In addition, location can play a huge role in determining which nonprofit in your area has the right career opportunities for you.
National and state nonprofit job boards can help you zero in on prime job openings in your vicinity as well as determine the range of nonprofit causes represented in your area.
Job boards are also useful for identifying professional contacts in your local nonprofit network to reach out to about possible positions.
If your community doesn’t do nearly enough to promote your favorite cause, then you can either research similar opportunities elsewhere or launch your own nonprofit dedicated to supporting this untouched need.
After all, now is as good a time as any to go down a different nonprofit path which, in the long run, will make you a more well-rounded and desirable candidate to future nonprofit employers.
2. The Nonprofit’s Culture
Another aspect to examine with any nonprofit job search is the general company culture, including boundaries and benefits.
As we mentioned earlier, a nonprofit job is hardly a career that revolves around money. That’s why it’s imperative for you not only to find a role that you’re qualified for, but also a staff and work environment you’re comfortable with.
Even though company culture varies among organizations, these policies are usually covered at most places:
- Team building exercises and retreats.
- Communication protocol with staff and donors.
- Designated appropriate work behavior.
- Training department and procedures.
- Popular staff traditions or outings.
An expert nonprofit should give you a taste of their company culture right from your very first interaction with them, namely with the job posting.
Always look for a balance of professionalism and personality in the language the nonprofit uses in their job description and/or application process. This will speak loudly for the nonprofit’s development standards as well as how connected they are with their employees.
Furthermore, while you should certainly not inquire about work-life balance in the interview process, it’s still important to have a solid understanding of this deal breaker before you accept any offers. That’s why it’s always a good idea to follow up with these key questions during your second round of interviews to make sure you can truly envision yourself in the role:
- How do they reward employee accomplishments?
- How do they handle employee failures?
- How hands-on are they in employee training?
- Do they encourage employee collaboration?
- Do they nurture employee growth?
3. The Nonprofit’s Professionalism
Last but not least, when it comes to job hunting, a critical player you should never forget is the nonprofit’s professionalism.
This will undoubtedly be easier to uncover when applying for positions with larger nonprofits. However, with a little research, you’re bound to come across some viable opinions about smaller nonprofits too.
You should also take the time to analyze the nonprofit’s online presentation and web presence in addition to accurate job posting details.
Make certain that your potential nonprofit employers maintain a professional appearance by looking over the following presentation elements that are sure to alert you of any red flags.
The Nonprofit’s Reputation
A positive and welcoming reputation has many advantages for a nonprofit’s growth, including driving up donations, donor stewardship, and fundraising event ticket and merchandise sales.
Nevertheless, a nonprofit’s reputation does not fall only on its leaders (even though executive directors do play a significant part), but rather on every employee’s shoulders as valid and influential members of the organization.
This means that in your job research, it’s not only a good idea to look into the nonprofit’s general background, but to also take note of prominent staff and volunteers’ reputations too.
By analyzing all of these factors that make up a nonprofit’s reputation, you can discover how much of the nonprofit’s staff and outside supporters’ opinions are taken into account.
The Nonprofit’s Web Design and Online Presence
Nowadays, nearly all nonprofits must consider the effects a positive or negative online presence will have on their reputation. After all, it’s likely that the a nonprofit’s relationship with a job applicant, let alone donor, will begin through some sort of digital interaction.
That’s why part of your job search process should always include surveying the visual and copywriting standards of a potential employer’s website and social media channels.
Oftentimes, this simple background check will reveal the level of importance a nonprofit places on engaging with online supporters and upholding a professional appearance, both on and offline.
Some significant virtual factors to review may include:
- Operative landing pages on the nonprofit’s website.
- High quality digital logos and graphics.
- Fluid website navigation and layout.
- Regularly updated social media channels.
- Effective social media marketing strategy.
By the end of this checklist, you should have a solid understanding of a nonprofit employer’s online conduct and presentation.
The Nonprofit’s Job Posting Details
Similar to how many employers have strict guidelines for resume content, you should also be familiar with what aspects comprise a thoughtful and well versed job posting.
The first aspect to note is where you found the job posting to being with. Did you come across it on their website, a job search engine, or a print advertisement? The places an employer chooses to showcase a job posting will speak highly about their professionalism as well as what demographic they’re targeting in the process.
Once you’ve passed this stage, it’s imperative that you evaluate the job posting details to determine if it’s credible and coherent.
Here are a few key elements to look out for:
- Is the application process and deadline clearly outlined?
- Is the position accurate in its definition and details?
- Is there a downloadable description attached to the job posting?
All of these components work together to provide additional context for the role itself and the nonprofit’s seriousness in recruiting for the position.
Many nonprofit professionals enjoy the excitement that comes with searching for a new job; then again, others do not.
Don’t let yourself become overwhelmed by keeping our advice in the back of your mind as you continue your journey to finding your dream career.
FOR MORE ON NONPROFIT JOB HUNTING AND EXECUTIVE SEARCH, CHECK OUT THESE ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
- Major Gift Officer Job Description [Key Elements] — Learn more about applying for a Major Gift Officer role with these handy hiring tips from DonorSearch!
- Nonprofit Staffing: 5 Tips for Developing Executive Roles — Capitalize on your nonprofit’s growth with @Pay’s guide for creating executive roles.
- 127 Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits and Individuals — Blow nonprofit employers away with Fundly’s round up of unforgettable fundraising ideas!
Fundly is dedicated to providing you with the tools you need to raise money for whatever your cause may be.