There is a difference between companies that are in business for a profit and organizations that exist to protect something, or to promote the saving of something.
For-profit companies exist to make money, pure and simple. They make something, or have something, and they market it. The drive to succeed is entirely market-oriented and profit-driven.
Nonprofit organizations are on a different track. The IRS recognizes 26 types of nonprofit organizations. Briefly, nonprofits exist to serve the public interest. In theory, a nonprofit doesn’t declare a profit, having spent all its post-operating expenses in service to the public. How this is done varies widely from one nonprofit to the next.
Nonprofits attract plenty of people who want to work for them. What the nonprofit does generally dictates who applies for available jobs. One thing is fairly certain. A fat paycheck isn’t always part of the deal. While each nonprofit structures its overhead differently, contributors to each organization look at that overhead before deciding to give money. Over “market rate” paychecks can be a drawback for donors.
Considering whether to go for a job with a nonprofit centers around what the nonprofit does and what the interest of the job seeker is. Most people who choose to work for a nonprofit have examined the pay scale and other issues, and decided that there are more benefits than drawbacks. They tend to be very people oriented and want to be a positive force in their communities.
Perhaps the biggest benefit is the amount of responsibility that comes with the nonprofit job. Not all nonprofits are cash strapped. Some are awash in money. The common thread among most, though, seems to be to do more with less, and to do it with passion. What this means to an employee is that the number of jobs or projects may be more intense, and hopefully, more rewarding.
A nonprofit that has more work slots than employees available relies on the ability of the people working for the organization to work as a team. Anyone who is capable of, and who enjoys, doing more than one thing at a time, can find that the nonprofit world loves this ability.
What this amounts to is wearing more than one hat, sometimes unexpectedly. The uptick in skills as a result can become very valuable within the organization. Upward movement from within is common. Learning the business side of the organization seems to just be part of the job. A finely tuned business sense is highly regarded, simply because of the intertwined skill set needs of doing more with less. The brightest and best can land in the nonprofit camp very easily.
Being able to list the job skills learned is good for the resume too. The personal satisfaction that comes with being able to successfully shift from one skill or job as the day unfolds is a large plus.
Those who work for nonprofits largely do so because they believe in the mission of the organization. From providing food to the hungry, shelter to the homeless, protecting the environment or preserving a bit of history or open space, each organization provides an outlet for like-minded souls.
The simple, but very powerful, belief that each day brings with it the opportunity to contribute to the betterment of the community is an overwhelming benefit that falls firmly into the draw of working for a nonprofit organization.
Charles Ferris is a freelance writer who has lived in the Sierra, halfway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, for the last 37 years. He retired from teaching after 36 years in 2010. He and his wife hike, kayak, cross country ski, snow shoe, ride mountain bikes and road bikes, year round. His work can be found at Examiner.com.