Switching from For-Profit to Non-Profit

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Switching sectors from for-profit businesses to nonprofit organizations has become increasingly common throughout the past five years. Many of these for-business professionals consider this career switch into the nonprofit world because of their emphasis on charitable missions. The idea to make a meaningful and transitive impact is not alluring, but a possible personal goal as well.

While you would think that the transition into this type of work would be easy, the move can, at times, be difficult to adjust in. Many candidates often struggle to frame their own professional experience in a way that makes sense to nonprofit work. In fact, the overall story and transitive skills can be difficult to translate beyond the operational objectives within their for-profit sector. If you are looking to be successful within the non-profit industry, it is imperative that you reflect, analyze, research and prepare any necessary changes within your mentality. To help you with this transition, I have provided some vital tips to get you on your way to do something bigger than yourself.

To start, begin by doing your homework. Make sure you research every organization and program that you are interested in so that you know what you are getting yourself into. Not every nonprofit is going to value and leverage the private sector skills that you bring to the table. Spend some time learning the mission and values that each nonprofit is working towards and how you can become an asset and a key leader when you get the job. In addition, make sure you learn the background of some of their key leaders. Understanding their own personal success stories can help you gain a holistic view of the type of leaders they are looking for within their organization.

In addition to researching the background and history of the nonprofit organization that you are interested in, make sure you analyze your own personal and professional skills. Similar to any job, every organization is looking for something that can help push it to the next level. While handling millions of dollars of accounts or raising an X-amount of cash within one business quarter may seem like a huge accomplishment at other private sector firms, this may not be the same case for nonprofits. For many nonprofits, they are looking for leadership, management, and communication skills. Make sure you analyze your professional resume and highlight particular professional achievements and skills that can be translated to your sought out position. For example, if you are looking to work within their fundraising marketing department, try and highlight any grant writing or fundraising skills that can showcase your talents.

Once you have analyzed your professional experience, make sure you have a strong holistic reason for switching into the nonprofit sector. As much as you can reference how you would like to do good, you have to understand these organizations have heard this answer countless times. If you are looking to be an active leader within the nonprofit sector, especially for director and managerial positions, you need to create a story of self that directs your professional path to theirs. Ask yourself various overarching questions like: Why do you want to leave your current position? What interested you about nonprofit? What interested you about this organization? How can you relate to their mission? Go even as far and network with various members within the organization and ask them their thoughts and reasons for what got them there. Having a strong grasp of these questions will allow you to better internalize the move. This in turn should allow you to translate that to your prospective employers.

Once that is all done and said, the last thing you need to do is to be realistic about the compensation packages these nonprofit organizations are offering. Now, it is a myth that nonprofit organizations do not pay well. For some, you can be looking at six-or-seven-figure positions. But, unlike the for-profit businesses, salary compensation can be significantly lower that what you were making before. Remember, their main goal is not necessary selling their product. Instead, they are trying to enact a change that can eventually impact and shape the world. If you feel like your finances will be unstable taking this type of position, ask yourself if this is the right move. If you are still adamant about the position, go forward and make your change.