There are approximately 1.5 million nonprofit organizations registered in the United States, with great variation. Greenpeace, The Museum of Modern Art, The Mayo Clinic, The New York Stock Exchange, and The American Heart Association are all nonprofits and, until very recently, so too was the NFL.
Many people have misconceptions about working for nonprofits; that it means earning no money or that the only jobs are those focused on providing direct service or asking for money. This couldn’t be further from the truth!
Nonprofit status refers to the tax code the IRS uses for the organization. It has nothing to do with whether or not the organization makes money.
Unlike for-profit organizations, nonprofit revenues are used to advance the organization’s mission; the mission is the bottom line.
Nonprofit jobs aren’t just for psychology majors or teachers either. There are roles for every major and every interest. Many nonprofit organizations operate in ways quite similar to those in the for-profit sector.
Nonprofits need people to manage their money so that they can efficiently pursue their goals. They also need people to market their services and publicize their mission, to build and maintain their websites, and to manage the direction of the organization. There are nonprofits that focus on art, science, technology, medicine, economic development, government, policy, and international relations. No matter your major or area of interest, there is likely a place for you at a nonprofit.
Job availability in nonprofits is also expected to grow. The Department of Labor predicts that employment in the nonprofit sector will grow 14 percent by 2018, compared with 11 percent for employment in all other industries.
And there is room to grow in these organizations. Many nonprofits have flexibility to allow younger employees to take on more responsibilities. According to a report by the Bridgespan Group, there is a “nonprofit leadership deficit,” caused by a high rate of nonprofit executives and leaders retiring at the same time that the number of nonprofit organizations is growing. It is estimated that the nonprofit sector will need to attract significant numbers of new senior managers—about 80,000 each year by 2016.
If you haven’t considered a career in the nonprofit world, now might be the time to expand your search to include both for-profit and nonprofit organizations when looking for internships and jobs.
You can approach your search for nonprofits in a few ways:
- Consider the role you want to play in an organization. If you have been looking for web designer positions at for-profits, look for those same titles at nonprofits.
- You may also have an issue area that you are interested in. Maybe you are a marketing major and are interested in ending hunger. Look for nonprofits that work to end hunger and see what type of marketing positions they have available.
- Is there an organization you have a particular interest in? Perhaps you are fascinated with the Mayo Clinic. Take a look at their website to see what positions fit your skill set.
Whether it be a role, issue area, or particular organization, or some combination of the three, the nonprofit sector has a lot to offer and can greatly expand your internship and job search options.
Interested in exploring the nonprofit sector a bit more? Check out our funded internship programs.
Also, check out our resources page on nonprofits.