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From Non-Profit to For-Profit


Laura

I have heard some folks say that they have a heart for non-profit work.

I do not think I am one of those people.

I transitioned out of the not-for-profit (NFP) world to the for-profit sector. And by ‘transitioned,’ I mean lost my non-profit job here in Indianapolis because the position was eliminated.

Non-Profit Strategy and Visioning Work
© Flickr User stella12

Now that I am in a for-profit company, I have a few observations:

  • The feeling of looking at everyone as if they are a potential source of money is gone. It’s hard to build a budget based on the goodwill of others, which is what NFPs do. Of course you’re always on the lookout for new customers in a for-profit, but it has a whole different vibe. The buying motive and giving motive are two different animals, and the former is harder to nail down correctly.
  • Not having to worry about funding for your own job is gone. In NFPs, it is not uncommon for a position to be funded by a grant with a distinct start and end time. It’s kind of like the due date of an expectant mother – hard to forget it’s there.
  • The word ‘grassroots’ is rarely uttered. Take marketing, for example. Many NFPs do not have a budget for advertising, marketing, communications nor public relations. I heard the word ‘grassroots’ a lot. While the environment can provide one-of-a-kind learning experiences at first, when you often don’t have enough resources to do a job properly, professional development can stagnate.
  • For many NFPs, especially arts-related ones, your weekends are spent working. Even if not working for an event-centric non-profit, many organizations are staffed so thin that the work cannot all be done in a typical work week, and weekends become a time to catch up. After nearly ten years of working in the performing arts, I have thoroughly enjoyed having my weekends back.
  • Let’s talk salary: You make more money in the for-profit sector. There are exceptions, and I was always paid fairly. However, if top dollar is what you’re looking for, look away from NFPs. Some exceptions include more corporate non-profits, (think American Cancer Society and the NFL – yes, the NFL), but in general you’ll make less at a NFP. Check out an Indiana NFP salary report by Charitable Advisors.
  • Many NFP employees are asked to donate to the organizations they work for. So employees are working incredibly long hours, for less-than-competitive pay, and are asked for even more. There are good reasons for this. But if you’re in the for-profit world, making better money, you can donate more to where your passions lie. And then—unlike donating to your own NFP employer—you are treated like a philanthropist as well.

I appreciate those folks who do have a heart for non-profit. They are often filling a need in the community and they do it will a passion that is admirable. If you decide this is the route to consider for your next career move, get ready to learn, and buckle-up: you’re in for an exciting, fulfilling ride.

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About the Blogger: Laura Neidig works for the Riley Children's Foundation as Senior Communications Officer. She also serves as Marketing Liaison with the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon and is a 4-time Emmy award winner.

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Tue, December 2 2014 » Corporate Culture, Self Development

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