Can effective non-profit management change the world? It’s possible. Great non-profit managers lead to great results as employees produce better results and organizations meet their missions. Because graduates need to balance so many different skills, the world of non-profit managing is exciting and rewarding.
No two days are ever the same for a non-profit manager. One day might involve meeting with big donors to review the organization’s mission and solicit funds; the next day could bring eight hours of paperwork to meet government regulations. Managers must be ready to coach employees, manage projects, work directly with clients and balance government and donor restrictions. Some managers will spend most of their time hiring, training and monitoring employees; other bosses will rarely leave the main office. As managers progress in their career, they can expect more office work and less time for one-on-one work with clients. Some workers prefer to stay in low-level management roles their entire careers to stay close to the organization’s immediate mission.
The non-profit job sector is growing rapidly. Many organizations are involved in healthcare and education, two fields experiencing large rates of expansion. However, the non-profit job market varies by region and geography. Large cities are more likely to have the donors and tax revenues to sustain a thriving non-profit infrastructure. Small, rural towns offer limited numbers of non-profit jobs; however, many organizations in smaller areas are deeply embedded in the community and offer a strong sense of purpose to workers. Because non-profit positions are often grant funded, employees should have a strong understanding of the funding sustainability for any position before accepting a job offer. All large organizations are required to file a Form 990 with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The Form 990 details the organization’s finances and is a valuable tool for new employees wishing to evaluate a non-profit’s stability.
For most non-profit management jobs, a degree in public affairs, organizational leadership or public administration is advantageous. Entry-level managers can succeed with a bachelor’s degree, but a graduate degree like a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) is necessary for advancement. In some fields, sector-specific degrees are also helpful. For example, a health-related non-profit organization like the International Committee of the Red Cross might prefer applicants with a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) or Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN). This is especially true for managers who supervise staff providing direct services to clients.
Salary and Benefits
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, non-profit managers earn roughly the same as their for-profit equivalents when pay and benefits are included in calculations. Non-profits typically offer a wide range of benefits, like flexible schedules, telecommuting (work-from-home) options, ample amounts of paid time off (PTO), subsidized health insurance and professional development opportunities – not to mention the feeling of making a difference in the world. While managers at non-profit organizations may earn slightly lower salaries than workers at for-profit companies, many non-profit workers feel their benefits more than make up for the difference.
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Although every non-profit organization offers employees a different experience, there’s a common thread running between every entity in the sector. Non-profit management provides much-needed services to a community, including the community of employees at the organization.