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A Look at Four Nonprofit Career Profiles: Business Operations, Community Development Finance, Development, and Program Management

By Commongood Careers

Roles in the nonprofit sector are as diverse as the organizations that hire for them. Learn about some of the roles available at today's most exciting nonprofits and social enterprises.

Business Operations

Finance. Marketing. Facilities Management. These may not be the first words that come to mind when you think about nonprofits, but these are all crucial parts of most nonprofits' ability to succeed.

Similar to corporations and small businesses, nonprofits strive to operate with method and within budget. Since nonprofits are accountable to funders, board members, and the government, their task to run efficient operations, while being able to simultaneously demonstrate measurable outcomes of how they are advancing their mission, is especially important.

Many jobs in nonprofit business operations require a specialized degree, such as a CPA or MBA. Other roles call for hands-on experience in disciplines like communications or sales. These degrees and skills can be some of the most transferable from the corporate to the nonprofit sector, and often prove to be exceptionally rewarding to sector-changers looking to apply their operational skills in a socially driven setting.

Community Development Finance

Do you think careers in nonprofit finance are just about budgets and audits? Think again...

Many nonprofits offer opportunities in finance and accounting that help to build the sector as a whole, such as organizations that specialize in community development finance. Individuals with 5-10 years experience working in finance, banking, or accounting, and those with a higher degree like an MBA, will find ample opportunities to put their skills to good work.

Community development finance institutions provide capital to other nonprofit organizations for mission-critical projects, such as new sites or programs. In addition to financial support, these organizations provide strategic planning and advocacy services.

Development Jobs: Win Friends and Influence People

Do you love to talk (or write) a blue streak? Are you looking to put your sales, marketing, or business background to good use? Then a career in nonprofit development may be for you.

At most nonprofits, development roles focus on soft skills, such as communication and interpersonal relationships. Hard skills, such as fundraising database management, can be learned on the job. Development is one of the easiest roles to transition into from any other field, such general management, sales, or even real estate.

Development is the single biggest area of the sector where demand out-paces the supply of good people. There are a lot of jobs out there and they are often amongst the highest paying positions at a given organization.

Program Management Jobs: Putting Mission into Action

Nonprofit program managers carry out the mission-critical work of the organization. Whether providing programs in such fields as education, healthcare, or disaster relief, program management staff works directly with the community served by an organization.

Careers in program management require excellent people and organizational skills, as well as a strong connection to the organization's mission. As all nonprofit programs are different, specific responsibilities vary. General responsibilities may include managing volunteers or other staff, promoting the program to the local community, and making sure that program activities support the strategic vision of the organization.

This article was written by Commongood Careers and is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-NoDerivs 2.5 License.

For more information about nonprofit and socially entrepreneurial careers, visit Commongood Careers at

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