Is A Career In Nonprofit For You?

Nonprofit organizations are often thought of as places you go to volunteer, but they can offer rewarding careers as well.  

As of 2017, the most recent year on which data is available, U.S. nonprofits employed the third largest workforce of any U.S. segment according to a 2020 report by the Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University. Although there are many similarities between nonprofit and for-profit companies, here are some aspects you should consider.

Areas of Employment- The Center for Civil Society Studies categorize nonprofit work into five areas.  1. Education, which includes private elementary, secondary, and higher education organizations.  2. Social assistance which includes child day care, and individual and family services. 3. Health services which include private hospitals, nursing homes, and ambulatory health care. 4. Religious, civic, and professional organizations.  5. Arts and recreation in which symphonies and museums have considerable higher share.

Nonprofit employment is growing- The Center for Civil Society Studies also found that nonprofits had significant growth over the period 2007 to 2017, increasing its workforce by a total of 18.6%. By contrast, for-profit employment grew at a much slower rate of 6.2%. Even during the recession and recovery period of 2007-2012, nonprofits increased employment by 8.5% while for-profit businesses reduced their economy-wide employment by -4.1%.

What type of jobs are available? Nonprofits require some of the same type of positions as for-profit companies.  Accountants, I.T professionals, and Human Resource personnel are some examples.  Some unique positions in charities include fund raisers, volunteer coordinators, and grant writers. 

Is the pay competitive? The most surprising aspect of the Civil Society Studies report was that nonprofits wages, on average, are actually higher than for-profit firms in the same fields.  For example, nonprofit individual and family services and home health care organizations pay over 70% more than their for-profit counterparts; however, in fields in which nonprofits and for-profits are both heavily involved, nonprofit average weekly wages tend to be higher than those offered by for-profit firms in the same fields.   

Where do I find openings for nonprofits? Charities may use the same job boards as for profit companies but there are some specialized ones just for nonprofit openings.  Some examples include,,, and

When deciding if a career in nonprofit work is for you, think about what causes resonate with you.  Nonprofits are looking for not only good employees, but also people who are passionate about the work they do.

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Stacy Harshman

Stacy Harshman, founder of Your Fulfilling Life, brings her experience as a recruiter for a Fortune 500 corporation to her work as a career coach. In addition to helping people discover their passions, she also provides clients with insight into the mind of a recruiter, unlocking the secrets of what employers look for in potential employees. Stacy offers individual and group coaching in person and by phone to those seeking positive change in their professional lives.