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Home  > Article

Perceptions and Misconceptions about the Nonprofit Sector

By Erdin Beshimov

Any profession has stereotypes attached to it, and the nonprofit profession is no exception. But do the stereotypes hold true?

  • "Nonprofit workers don't make any money."

In sectors that include both for-profit and nonprofit organizations, nonprofit workers earn well on par with their for-profit counterparts. For example, at nonprofit hospitals and nursing homes, the average nonprofit weekly wages are virtually identical with average wages at for-profit hospitals and nursing homes. Students considering careers in nonprofit should recognize the possibilities that do exist for financial security.

  • "It'll be easy for me to get a nonprofit job after I first work in the private sector."

The skills that one hones in business -- a can-do attitude, an understanding of what produces tangible results, working as part of a team, strategic thinking, and even basic accounting -- are highly sought-after by nonprofits.  However, it would be a mistake to think that your private sector experience alone is enough to land a nonprofit job.  For one thing, nonprofits increasingly attract top quality candidates and can afford to be selective.  A job candidate has to be able to demonstrate commitment to a given nonprofit cause and show understanding of nonprofit practices and issues. 

  • "Nonprofit experience may not be the best prep if I later want to apply for a business job."

In the days of ever-increasing competition for jobs, demonstrating commitment for and experience in a particular job function is vital.  However, some of the intangibles of working at a nonprofit can outweigh specific preparation for the business world.  These intangibles include the ability to achieve goals with limited resources, a capacity for communicating with diverse stakeholders, a knack for fund-raising, and many others.      







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