Non-Profit Management Field Guide

Overview

Non-profit management is an expanding and dynamic career field characterized by the growth of new organizations and new programs developed to improve the human condition. Non-profit institutions play an important role in community life and are an integral part of the economic, political, and social structures of nations. Their primary goal is to advance, advocate, or pursue a cause central to the organization’s existence and mission. There are nearly 1.3 million non-profit (voluntary, community-based, functional, or charitable) institutions in the United States alone. Workdays in non-profit organizations are often long, with financial rewards not always matching effort or responsibility. Furthermore, many nonprofits face a continual crisis of resources.

Career Opportunities

Following the entry level, one may assume positions of increasing responsibility in functional areas, program or service delivery, and/or general management. Primary job functions can include working with a Board of Directors, public and community groups, fundraising, media, clients and other nonprofit organizations. Career advancement depends on the size and mission of each nonprofit, as well as your dedication to the organization. There are unlimited opportunities to jump from the nonprofit sector to the private and public/government sectors because of continuous interaction with institutions in these areas. Probable career outcomes are Senior Executive Director, Program Manager, Government Affairs, or equivalent positions in the private and public sectors.

Types of Jobs

  • Fundraising
  • Program analyst
  • Program director
  • Marketing/PR
  • Research
  • Community outreach
  • Finance
  • Information systems

Qualifications + Skills

  • Interest in issues related to the mission of the organization
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Training and motivating others
  • Collaborative and interpersonal skills
  • Fundraising
  • Grant writing
  • Working creatively with limited resources
  • Research and analytical skills

PRO TIP: In addition to screening for skills and talents, NGOs look for candidates who care about the issues they work on. Provide clear examples in your cover letter about how you know and care about the work the organization does; also look for ways to demonstrate a commitment to their core issues in your interview.

Sample Employers

  • Acadia Center
  • Alpha House of Tampa
  • ALSAC - St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
  • American Cancer Society
  • American Red Cross
  • American Society for Public Administration
  • AmeriCares
  • And Justice for All
  • APS Education Foundation
  • Beyond Borders
  • CARE
  • Cincinnati Parks Foundation
  • City of Hope
  • Committee to Protect Journalists
  • Compassion International
  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • Direct Relief
  • Doctors Without Borders
  • East Lake Foundation
  • Easter Seals
  • Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide
  • Feeding America
  • Feminist Majority Foundation
  • FHI 360
  • Food for The Poor
  • For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST)
  • Ford Foundation
  • FSH Society
  • GBS/CIDP Foundation International
  • India Development and Relief Fund
  • Institute for Global Communications
  • Kiwanis International Foundation
  • Local area food banks
  • ...And More!

Sample Maxwell Classes

  • Human Resources Management
  • Nonprofit Management and Governance
  • Financial Management of Nonprofit Organizations
  • Fund Development for Nonprofit Organizations
  • Implementation of Public Policy
  • Collaborative and Participatory Governance
  • Managing Interpersonal, Group and Systemic Conflicts
  • Ethics and Public Policy

Resources

  • Alliance for Nonprofit Management
  • Charity Navigator
  • Chronicle of Philanthropy
  • DevNet Jobs
  • Foundation Center
  • Idealist.org
  • Non-Profit Career Network
  • Opportunity Knocks

Related Career Guides

  • Foundations
  • Think Tanks
  • Human Rights and Social Justice
  • Humanitarian Aid and Relief
>> Download a printable, PDF version of the Non-Profit Management Career Field Guide.