10 Benefits of Working for a Nonprofit [+ 4 Myths]

4 min read
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Nonprofit organizations employ 10% of the U.S. workforce, making up the country’s third largest sector behind retail and manufacturing. Many of these employees are passionate about their day-to-day duties and are motivated by a larger appreciation for their organization’s long-term mission and impact.

These are only some benefits of working for a nonprofit. In this blog post, we’ll discuss additional reasons why people are drawn to the work, debunk common myths and help you prepare for a fulfilling career of your own.

Benefits of Working for a Nonprofit

There are many perks of working for a nonprofit, from making a positive impact on society to achieving personal and professional goals. The following benefits will give you a better understanding of what you can achieve when you join the nonprofit sector.

  • Contribute to the greater good. Actively participating in efforts to help underserved communities, advocating for policy change or raising awareness about important social causes is what drives many people to commit to a career in nonprofit work.
  • Personal fulfillment. Witnessing the impact of nonprofit work is known to cultivate a sense of satisfaction. This fuels a lasting passion for the work ahead.
  • Professional growth and development. As in other sectors, there are opportunities for employees to expand their knowledge and skill sets to advance their careers. This includes staying up to date with nonprofit practices and regulations, attending networking events and maintaining a growth mindset.
  • Variety of responsibilities. Event planning, community outreach and plenty of logistical planning need to happen in order for nonprofit organizations to achieve their goals. With such a diverse workload, it is not uncommon for employees to take on a variety of responsibilities. Dynamic task loads help employees feel more engaged in their work.
  • Participation in innovation. Nonprofit organizations are innately innovative environments. Regardless of a group’s specific goal, there is always a need for innovative minds to take on big challenges and maximize impact.
  • Diverse and inclusive workplace. People of all backgrounds unite at nonprofit organizations with a shared passion for an important social cause. The National Council of Nonprofits encourages all nonprofits to apply values of diversity, equity and inclusion to their workforces.
  • Strong sense of community. Colleagues share a common passion at nonprofit organizations. After all, that’s what brings everyone together. Nonprofit workplaces are made better when teamwork is kept a priority.
  • Less hierarchical structure. The structure of nonprofit organizations varies greatly depending on size and mission. Smaller organizations tend to have a flatter structure, meaning there is a limited number of employees with volunteers helping to fill in the gaps. A less rigid hierarchy provides for easier collaboration and more people involved in decision-making.
  • Networking and connection. Growing your professional network and making an effort to connect with others in your line of work allows you to expand your knowledge, collaborate with more changemakers, identify new opportunities and much more.
  • Travel opportunities. Nonprofit initiatives can happen close to home or take employees around the world. Those looking to travel with a philanthropic mission are able to form a deep understanding of the cause they are working for as they witness their impact firsthand.

Debunking Nonprofit Myths

There are certain connotations that have become attached to nonprofit work. The following are several common misconceptions about nonprofits, plus the facts to counter them.

  • Nonprofits don’t pay. While volunteers are an important part of the nonprofit structure, there are plenty of full-time positions that pay competitive hourly rates or salaries with benefits. In fact, nonprofit organizations are required to follow federal and state wage and hour laws. Rules state that compensation must be reasonable but cannot be excessive. The average annual nonprofit employee salary is $58,114 (2023), but earnings will vary based on the size of the organization, location and an employee’s experience.
  • Nonprofit skills aren’t transferable to for-profit jobs. There are many ways in which the skills required of nonprofit employees can be utilized elsewhere in the workforce. The need for clear communication, organization and problem solving are just a few important, yet transferable, skills. Many nonprofits operate just like other offices, such as Chambers of Commerce, libraries and universities.
  • There are fewer opportunities for career growth. From volunteering to reaching new leadership positions, nonprofit organizations allow for ample growth. Expanding your professional network, earning certifications and being active in different facets of the organization will help you stand out and possibly advance faster.
  • The work is more emotionally demanding. While the work done by some nonprofit organizations can be emotionally draining, having this foresight allows employees to be proactive about protecting themselves. Guidance by the National Council of Nonprofits encourages nonprofit leaders to listen to what employees need and act on it, support employee mental health with insurance coverage and train managers in how to promote well-being.

Preparing for a Career in Nonprofits

Sharpen your skills and learn the latest nonprofit industry practices by earning an advanced degree. The University of San Diego offers a 100% online Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership and Management program, which can be completed in just 20 months. Current and future nonprofit leaders benefit themselves and the greater good while working with experienced faculty on real-world issues.

No direct nonprofit experience? No problem. These undergraduate degrees provide crucial knowledge often sought by nonprofit employers:

  • Business Administration, Sales and Marketing
  • Sociology
  • Public Administration
  • International Relations
  • Communications
  • Political Science
  • Public Health
  • Fundraising
  • Philanthropy

Choosing the right online master’s degree is vital to building a strong foundation for your future career. That’s why USD created an eBook that includes a 10-page evaluation guide, comparison worksheets and an extensive list of questions to ask as you begin your search.


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