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What it’s Like to Work in a Successful Non-Profit Organization

Contributed article in our career series. Enjoy! – Kimberly

Receiving an MPA online or Master of Public Administration is a rewarding achievement that can lead to a career of tremendous public service. Many of us were taught to go to college to work for a business solely for the purpose of making money. While there is nothing wrong with the desire to make money, MPA's, on the other hand, are pressed for the desire to make a difference in the community and the world. There are many myths and taboos around the idea of working for a successful Non-Profit Organization that we will cover in this article.

Yes, you get paid to work!

A common misconception is the belief that people show up to work every day, out of the joy of their hearts, but don't make any actual money when working with a Non-Profit. Everyone needs to pay their bills and feed their families, which is a reality of life, and this is simply not the case. When working for a non-profit organization, there are many available job opportunities that you would expect at a regular business. These include web design, accounting, research, content writing, management, communications, administrative work, IT, and lobbying. The basis of a non-profit is, the company itself does not generate revenue, but the people working with the organization do get a salary.

Why do people choose non-profits?

As previously mentioned, the biggest difference between a non-profit organization and a regular business is the element of capitalism. In an ordinary business, the primary objective of all operation is to maximize the bottom line, the amount of revenue generated by the company and its employees. For a non-profit, the primary objective is to create a substantial difference in the world.

What is it like to work for such an organization?

Working for a non-profit is very much like working with a technology startup company. You have the opportunity to wear many hats, and that’s because nonprofits are generally understaffed. These organizations are always looking for quality people that can add value to the organization in several ways. As a newcomer, you will not only learn your role, but you will also have opportunities to learn how the entire operation functions. Working at a non-profit is a great opportunity for a young college graduate to get their feet wet in several fields, to find out what they enjoy doing.

There is Opportunity for Creativity

Very often in the black-tie corporate world, there is a standard method of operation and doing business. When working with a non-profit, things are different. Since these organizations have limited budgets with high goals, it requires collective collaboration and ingenuity to effectively grow the companies vision and mission. Working at a non-profit is a great opportunity for an aspiring content writer or growth marketer that wants to experiment with their methods, to effectively deliver a message to a targeted audience towards a selected call to action.

Successful Work Requires Thick Skin

A great difference that you will see when working with a non-profit over a general business is the fact that your clients are generally underprivileged citizens that have the odds stacked against them. You may find yourself helping out an addict that is having a difficult time paying rent or a single mother of four that recently lost everything. No matter who they are and what they’re going through, these people are looking for guidance. While there is a tremendous reward for handling this line of work, it also takes a level of determination and force of will to serve the community in such a fashion. The truth is, you have to deal with constant failures and negativity. Working at a non-profit, in some instances, is very much like being a doctor in the emergency room. All you see is tragedy, but it is your job to deliver service to the community.

A General Sense of Purpose

Despite the negative circumstances that you may find yourself dealing with when working at a non-profit, in some instances, it can be the most rewarding work that you can accomplish. Throughout our lives, we are taught to drive all of our efforts towards consumerism and capitalism. That all changes when you’re working at a non-profit organization. Instead of focusing on creating more money, you have the opportunity to focus on generating a bigger impact. When you think about it, that's the true meaning of life in the first place.

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