Non-Profit, not-for-profit, NFP, NGO – it may go by many names but working in the for-purpose sector can be incredibly rewarding, full of great people, worthy causes and a wide variety of role types and opportunities. However, making the switch from other sectors can bring its own challenges – here’s what you need to know before transitioning into the non-profit world!
Find and show your ‘Why’:
Before you start looking for roles and opportunities in the non-profit sector, take some time to identify your skills and passions. Non-profit organisations and NGOs are mission-driven, so they seek employees who’re passionate about their causes. Because they’re so mission-driven, this can require a bit of a mindset change for job seekers coming from the private sector who may be used to working to financial targets, and the public sector where neutrality is encouraged. You’ll find many people in the non-profit world who’re extremely passionate about the cause they’re working towards and don’t mind letting you know about it!
Take the time to reflect on your skills and interests and how they can be applied to the non-profit sector. Virtually any role that exists in the for-profit world has its counterpart in the NFP space, so chances are you don’t need to start from scratch. Doing some research on Do Good Jobs, our website or LinkedIn can start to give you an idea of what options are out there.
If you haven’t worked in the non-profit sector before, the question around your interest and motivation for making the change will likely come up. It’s essential to tailor your CV and cover letter to highlight your transferable skills, as well as demonstrating how you align with the mission and values of the organisation. Let them know that your interest in working with them is genuine by outlining what has drawn you to their cause in your application.
Get your head around funding:
Non-profit organisations typically rely on a mix of funding sources, such as government contracts, grants, donations, and fundraising events. When doing your research on potential organisations and job opportunities, it pays to get an idea of how they’re funded and what that means for job security and potential opportunities for advancement. You can often find this information on the organisation’s website, but don’t be afraid to bring it up with your recruiter or hiring manager if you’re unsure.
By their very nature, most non-profit organisations tend to be smaller and are often governed by a Board (though there are certainly some exceptions!). However small team size doesn’t necessarily mean small output – non-profit organisations are known for punching well above their weight when it comes to outcomes and achievements. You’ll need to be prepared to work collaboratively and wear multiple hats in your role, but the upside of smaller team sizes is that you get exposure to a broader range of tasks and areas of the business that are normally not available to you in other sectors. Non-profit organisations can sometimes be a product of their own success – their staff gain diverse skillsets and build up resilient communication skills, making them very attractive to the hiring market!
The salary conundrum:
There’s no sugar-coating the fact that non-profit salaries are often lower than their for-profit or government counterparts, and that’s something you need to be prepared for if you’re interested in moving into the sector. However, compensation can vary depending on the organisation, location, and job function, so it’s essential to research salary expectations for the specific job and organisation – you might be surprised!
When enquiring about roles, be upfront with your salary expectations and don’t be afraid to ask what their remuneration package looks like.
Making the leap:
The non-profit sector is highly competitive, and it may take some time to land your dream job. Be flexible and open to opportunities that may not be your ideal role but can help you gain experience and build your network. Consider temporary or contract work, which can often lead to permanent job opportunities. Non-profits often rely on volunteers to help achieve their mission too, volunteering for an organisation you’re interested in can be another great way to gain experience and connections. If you have leadership experience under your belt, consider governance roles where you can bring your expertise to the table while gaining valuable insights into the sector.
We highly encourage anyone looking to transition into the non-profit sector to give it a go – there’re so many great opportunities out there and the feeling of ‘doing good’ with your time shouldn’t be underestimated. You’ll need to be prepared to work hard, be flexible, and be passionate about the mission of the organisation you’re interested in, and you’ll find that non-profit work can be incredibly rewarding.
Interested in making the leap? We work with a wide variety of non-profit organisations so take a look at our website for our current vacancies. Do Good Jobs is a website that specialises in promoting opportunities in the non-profit and voluntary space nationwide, sign up for their job alerts to be kept in the loop.
Kirsty and Nikki