Posted 12/17/2007 - 05:23:02pm by David Bank
Why do you want to work in the nonprofit sector anyway?
That's the question the folks at Idealist.org, the leading website for finding nonprofit job and volunteer opportunities, pose at the beginning of their very helpful guide to nonprofit careers.
The advantages, Idealist suggests, may include meaningful work, hands-on opportunities, a more casual work environment, the opportunity to wear several hats, greater levels of responsibility, and a culture of like-minded people. The guide doesn't shrink from listing the disadvantages as well, such as: lower wages, burnout, turnover, different (or no) structure, lack of resources, elusive results and "Founders Syndrome" that may limit new ideas or ways of doing things
The guide is not specifically targeted at those seeking encore careers, but offers tips, checklists and even a glossary for anybody considering a nonprofit career. A running feature called "Common Mistakes," for example, advises that employers now routinely check online sites for potential red flags. "A good rule to keep in mind is that you should only post information photos, or opinions that you would like your parents, children, or a current or potential employer to see," the guide warns.
Another feature, "Imagine, Connect, Act," offers tips for moving ahead. "Commit to following up with two networking activities every day," the guide advises job-seekers. "This could mean making a phone call, sending an email, attending an event, researching an organization, conducting an informational interview, writing a thank you note, or closing out a dead end lead."
Another running theme, "The Great Debate," illuminates some of the nonprofit sector's ongoing discussions, such as how to measure success -- and how to evaluate projects that can't be measured.
The guide can be downloaded in individual sections or all at once, and concise summaries are helpful in reminding you where you've been and what's still on the to-do list.