Five Things You Didn’t Know About Working at a Nonprofit

People unfamiliar with employment in the nonprofit avenue might wonder what drives a choice to engage in charitable work. They might question what career advantages could exist in a field which appears to swap financial stability and potential advancement for a state of static altruism. Some may even consider charitable work an idealistic spider web, it’s organizers too caught up in perpetuating relief for others to offer employees a stable foundation.


It’s no shock that misconceptions about nonprofit work are common in an economy  dominated by corporate culture, where power trickles down a thin ladder and personal ascension may require stepping on someone else. Stacked against the rugged individualism of the corporate warrior, the words “charitable employment” might evoke depressing images of a naive do-gooder struggling for meager pay, managing impossible hours and a monstrous workload, all while having to repeatedly reassure supporters that their funds aren’t going to waste.  


I’d wager there are very few who have ever described working not-for-profit as easy. But among the folks who’ve done it, those who would claim the (often exaggerated) sacrifices aren’t worth the joy of crafting memories and building connections with the people you help certainly amount to far fewer. The last thing charities need are fake horror stories scaring great employees away, so to highlight the lines between the fiction and reality, I’ve put together the following list of things you might not know about charitable work.  



  • You can get paid well – While it’s true that nonprofit salaries are lower on average than their for-profit counterparts, this trend is shifting as organizations awaken to the necessity of providing skilled employees competitive compensation.




  • Nonprofits offer excellent perks – Nonprofits pave the pay gap with enticing incentives such as a less strict dress policy, more vacation days, flexible hours, comprehensive insurance packages, and even student loan forgiveness.



  • You’ll learn marketable skills – Since resources are limited, a typical nonprofit workload will likely include tasks which fall outside what may be typical for that job. The extra skills you’ll pick up in this environment will set you apart in your industry and increase your value as an employee.




  • Nonprofit jobs aren’t easy to land – It’s a challenge for novice workers to find charitable work that pays. The idea of helping people for a living is alluring to many, and job candidates will need to prove their competency to have a shot.




  • You’ll build an extensive networkWorking for a nonprofit agency involves frequent interaction with sponsors, donors, government contacts and other individuals active in the industry. Impress even a few, and doors will open.