Working In Non-Profit Organizations
… and what you need to know
If you are interested in working for, running, or even starting a non-profit organization, there are some key things to consider. Non-profit organizations differ not only from the private sector but also from their municipal counterparts in the public sector. Structure, funding, management, and leadership all have some unique aspects worth exploring further.
Non-profit organizations are usually formed as corporations. They actually operate as a business. While their main purpose is to provide services to their communities, profit is important most of the time as it is what keeps the organization functioning.
Non-profit organizations typically are made up of a board, the director, and a series of committees. They typically achieve their purposes through a series of programs which various committees oversee. If your goal is to be in management in a non-profit, you may well be in charge of one of these committees to start with.
Funding in a non-profit organization can come from the government, though typically a large portion will be from goods and services the organization provides. Unlike the private sector where the profits go to the owners or shareholders of a company, the profits here drive the organization into the future allowing it to meets the needs of its community more efficiently.
You’ll need excellent business skills to thrive in a non-profit. Fundraising is another important aspect of the funding picture in a non-profit organization. You’ll need to be able to plan and organize various events in and around this element.
Management in a non-profit organization is different that the municipal side of the public sector where there is a preset amount of funding, structure, and resources. While there are certainly similar elements in a non-profit organization, it operates as a business. Non-profits are typically formed as a type of corporation.
Management within non-profits thus can have similar elements to the private sector. It is much easier to hire and fire employees as well as reorganize certain levels of an organization. You’ll need to have keen decision making ability and planning capabilities. You’ll also need to be able to train your subordinates and hold them accountable for these competencies.
Leadership in a non-profit organization requires passion. Specifically a passion that aligns with the mission of the organization. A leader who does not share a strong desire to accomplish the mission and vision of the organization will not be able to inspire its employees to push through the peaks and valleys of meeting the needs of their community.
Since the mission of a given non-profit organization is typically specific to a narrow scope, their leaders must be zeroed in on these areas otherwise they will be ineffective.
If you are considering being part of a nonprofit, in any capacity, the organization must be tending to a need that keeps you awake at night. If you are going to lead effectively in non-profit, it can’t just be your job, it must be part of your life’s work.