Working in the non-profit sector is a wonderful way to marry your career goals to a cause you feel passionately about. But did you know it also provides the kind of do-it all experience and mentality that corporate employers love? When you work in a nonprofit, you learn multiple skills and are asked to pitch-in in all areas of the operation.
Here are several skills you learn working in nonprofits that translate well into corporate America.
Nonprofit employees are constantly thinking about money. Whether it’s raising money for their cause or applying for a grant to help them do more, budgeting, accounting and finances are very important to the process.
This experience translates well to the finance industry. If you’re good at raising money and have a knack for numbers, a career with Fisher Investments is a good next step.
A Strong Work Ethic
When you’re helping people, there is no time clock to punch. Nonprofit employees give of themselves for the greater cause. They don’t watch a clock. They work the hours they must to get the job done and they rarely believe the job is done. There are always more people to help and greater awareness needed. Nonprofit employees look for ways to make their organization better because they believe in the work they do.
This type of dedication resonates in corporate America, as well.
Working With All Types of People
Those who work for a nonprofit become accustomed to working with everyone from indigent people by providing services, to courting CEOs for contributions to your fundraising efforts. This sort of flexibility and adaptability in personal communications is extraordinarily helpful in a for-profit scenario.
Excellent Communication Skills
Nonprofit employees must learn to communicate effectively through grant and proposal writing as well as other forms of communication, both written and oral. Their cause depends on it.
If you are a successful nonprofit employee, you are a master of the ask letter and a pro on the phones. You have learned that to receive you must ask, and to receive a lot you must not be dissuaded by rejection and have an undying, yet inoffensive, tenacity for your cause. This sort of dedication and hard work is greatly valued in for-profit work. An extremely gifted fundraiser can parlay his or her skills very easily into a career in sales or development. Many large corporations also have community giving programs, which are a natural fit for someone attracted to nonprofit work.
Creative Thinking and Problem Solving
The very nature of a nonprofit means having to use creative strategies to do as much as you can with as little as you have. This unending matching of needs to resources involves a lot of problem solving and brainstorming. This affects the entire nonprofit, not just from the top down. Successful nonprofit employees work with the entire organization. They don’t wait for marching orders.
Compounding on the creative problem solving mentioned above, teamwork is essential to the nonprofit. The cause doesn’t care about individual career goals.
Advancing the cause requires teamwork and dedicated effort. The result being of the utmost importance to every person working in that nonprofit. As for-profit companies begin to recognize the value of teamwork, particularly in regards to millennials who are educated to value the team dynamic, companies will be looking to employ people who are team players and goal focused.
Charity and nonprofit workers are also by nature an upbeat, motivated workforce. That sort of attitude is infectious and welcomed by all for-profit employers.
While at first it may seem employees must choose between a nonprofit or for-profit career, there are actually many crossover skills that make the nonprofit employee very desirable to the business world. Their extensive experience in fundraising, finance and creative problem solving, along with a desire to do “good” and work as part of a team, are the very things that many business cultures are now embracing. Should nonprofit employees be interested in making the switch from nonprofit to for-profit, they will experience many opportunities when they choose to highlight the things they’ve learned from nonprofit work.
Hi, my name is Jon and I run Compounding Pennies. I’ve been interested in personal finance since high school and love writing and talking about it. You can learn more about me in the Authors section of this site.