Take a look at common roles within the not-for-profit sector.
We've put together some resources on securing a job in the not-for-profit sector.
Learn more about the differences between working in the private and not-for-profit sector to see which one appeals more to you.
Not-for-profits are one of the fastest growing sectors and industries. According to the Urban Institute, between 1994 and 2004, not-for-profits’ revenues rose 61.5 percent. Not-for-profits encompass a wide variety of industries; however, they are focused on organizations whose mission it is to create social change or have societal benefit.
Many people automatically think of charitable organizations like the American Red Cross when they hear about non-profits or not-for-profits; however, not-for-profits work in all different types of industries. For example many hospitals, universities, museums, parks, and religious institutions are also not-for-profits.
People work at not-for-profits for many different reasons; however, not-for-profits offer people a way to work for an organization that has societal benefit. Furthermore, not-for-profit work generally tends to focus on working with people, and many people choose to enter the not-for-profit sector for that reason.
FAQ About Not-for-profits
What is a not-for-profit?
In the United States, a not-for-profit is any organization that is exempt from federal corporate income tax; however, when people use the term not-for-profits, they are generally referring to 501(c)3 organizations which are charitable organizations, and the IRS gives this designation to organizations that serve a societal benefit. The primary difference between a not-for-profit and a for-profit is that a for-profit will distribute its profits amongst its shareholders whereas not-for-profits will re-invest any profits back into the organization.
Can I move into the for-profit sector from the not-for-profit sector?
Absolutely. The professional skills you gain in the not-for-profit sector will transfer over into the for-profit sector (and vice versa). Working well on teams, successfully brainstorming, creating, and executing projects, and managing work streams are skills that are needed in all sectors of work and transferrable across sectors.
Do I have to take huge pay cuts to work for a not-for-profit?
Not necessarily. While some not-for-profit jobs offer competitive wages to comparable positions in the for-profit sector, this is not a universal case. Many people who work in the not-for-profit sector do earn less than those with comparable education levels/work experience in the for-profit sector. Generally speaking, the pay can be around 10 percent lower for entry-level jobs and mid level employees. However, a significant difference exists amongst executive level positions where the pay can be 50 percent lower for similar positions in the for-profit sector.
What are the benefits of taking this pay cut?
While the financial compensation may not be as high working for a not-for-profit, many people work for not-for-profits because they believe in the mission and cause of the not-for-profit. By working for a not-for-profit whose cause you believe in, you can give your work a personalized purpose and meaning.
What are some differences in workplace environment between a for-profit and not-for-profit?
While many commonalities exist between sectors, in general there are some differences. While this does not apply to all for-profits or not-for-profits, it gives a general understanding of what differences to expect. Not-for-profits, more than for-profits, run on tighter budgets and tend to be very frugal organizations. As a result, offices may not be as ornate or sleek as those of for-profit companies, and due to running with less staff, not-for-profits tend to have people working various projects at once.
Not-for-profits also deal with different groups of stakeholders that for-profits may not have to. Not-for-profits can work with governmental agencies, volunteers, donors, and community members and many not-for-profits work with all these groups simultaneously.
Finally, not-for-profits allow people to connect their work to social change they imagine. While for-profits are active in social change, the mission of the not-for-profit is seen through the workplace environment, projects, and overall communication. As a result, many in the not-for-profit sector feel connected to their passions by the work around them.
Will I get relevant professional experience?
Yes. In fact at many not-for-profits you will be able to expand your skill set more than you would be able to at a for-profit because in general, not-for-profits run leaner, and have less staff which will require you to assist with projects outside of your department/position. Certain skills such as the ability to work well on teams, execute projects, and manage work streams are transferrable regardless of sector, industry, or company.
General Links to Not-for-profit Jobs
Community Services and Public & International Policy
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Includes current job openings and volunteer resources for people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace, and humanitarian service.
AmeriCorps Links to a full range of state and national volunteer opportunities searchable by personal interests and geographic locations.
Campusprogress.org Online newspaper features articles, blogs, events, and resources which includes internships and jobs.
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace The Endowment conducts programs of research, discussion, publication, and education in international affairs and U.S. foreign policy. Internships and job listings posted online including the Junior Fellows Program.
City Year An organization that unites students from all backgrounds to make difference in schools and neighborhoods through their one-year long service. Applications available online.
Community Career Center Provides job board and resume posting service, in addition to member services. Job postings available online for job seekers as well as employers.
Foundation Center The most comprehensive database on U.S. grantmakers and their grants; conducts and publishes research on trends in foundation growth, giving, and practice; and offers an array of free and affordable educational programs.
InterAction Offers internship opportunities three times a year to junior level college students as well as graduate students in diverse positions including the Office of the President, Finance & Administration, Humanitarian Policy & Practice, and Policy & Communications.
The Urban Fellows Program (NYC) A program that introduces college graduates to jobs in public service and government. Resources include a link to a nine-month paid program, internships and job postings.
Michigan State University Libraries - Nonprofit Virtual Library A large amount of information available on the non-profit industry but there is no link for jobs and internships.
Nonprofit Career Advice A large amount of information available on the non-profit industry but there is no link for jobs and internships.
Nonprofit Career Network Links available for job seekers, employers and volunteers in non-profit organizations.
Professionals for NonProfits (PNP) Resources include jobs for job seekers and direct hire, temporary staffing for employers.
Amizade Volunteer Programs Internships, and educational courses, volunteer service programs to empower individuals and communities through worldwide service and learning.
Backdoor Jobs Links to short-term job adventures, summer jobs, internships, apprenticeships, seasonal jobs, volunteer vacations, gap year programs, unique sabbaticals, and work abroad.
Center for World Indigenous Studies An independent research and education organization that increases understanding of indigenous peoples and societies. Resources include certificates, internships, and fellowships.
Cross-Cultural Solutions A volunteer organization with internship and volunteer programs abroad.
Idealist A wide collection of jobs, events and volunteer opportunities posted online.
OneWorld A list of global jobs and upcoming events available. Resources also include travel guide and campaigns.
Peace Corps Resources available for graduate schools, volunteers, students and teachers. Application available online.
Environment & Science
Environmental Systems A wide range of environmental career opportunities, internships, and degree programs.
Greenbiz Job postings and career resources on green jobs, cleantech, and sustainable business practices.
GreenCorps Offers one-year of paid classroom/fieldwork training and facilitates permanent placement with environmental and social change groups.
Natural Resources Defense Council Resources for full-time, internships and volunteer opportunities in protecting wildlife and wild places and to ensure a healthy environment for all life on earth.
Nature Jobs A career resource for scientists: around 5,223 jobs listed, as well as employer profiles.
New York City Specific Resources
Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City Full-time employment opportunities and volunteer mentoring programs to all children who need caring adult role models.
Center for Urban Community Services Full time job opportunities for providing training, consultation and technical assistance to homeless and housing organizations throughout the nation.
Community Service Society of New York Volunteer and employment opportunities in advocacy, research and direct service for low-income New Yorkers particularly targeted toward communities of color.
Educational Alliance Internships, full-time and volunteer opportunities in providing after-school programs for children from low-income families as well as counseling and recovery programs for older adults and senior citizens.
New York City Housing Authority Offer full-time, seasonal, and internship opportunities such as NYCHA Summer Graduate Internship and Summer Youth Employment Program.
NYC.GOV Rich resource for NYC Summer Internship opportunities and job postings for the City Government agencies including various Social Service Departments.
The New York City Department of Youth and Community Development Offers various types of jobs and internships in providing youth and family programming.
United Way of New York City Various types of full-time employment and volunteer opportunities in the New York City area.
National and International Think Tanks Based In New York City
Asia Society Seeks to foster understanding and communication between Americans and peoples of Asia and the Pacific. Offers full-time, part-time, on-call employment and fellowship opportunities.
Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs Deals with the ethical questions raised by international issues such as armed conflict and environmental protection. Internships and job postings as well as faculty opportunities available online.
Council on Foreign Relations Offers full-time opportunities for recent graduates and skilled professionals interested in pursuing a career in international relations to development or information services in New York and Washington offices.
Demos Strives to strengthen participatory democracy on the national level through issue advocacy and reform on issues such as voting rights. Offers full-time and internship opportunities and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women and LGBT applicants.
North American Congress on Latin America An independent organization that analyzes trends in Latin America and its economic, political, and social relations with the United States. Offers graduate and undergraduate level internships as well as full-time employment.
Planners Network The national organization of progressive urban planners and community activists. Job postings are sent out in the monthly e-newsletter and posted on the Planners Network List-Serve for members.
Policy Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Creates strategies to advance the civil rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. Legal and non-legal internships as well as full-time opportunities on the website.
Population Council Established by John D. Rockefeller in 1952, the Population Council works to address problems caused by population growth. Offers internships, fellowships, full-time opportunities.
Social Science Research Council Since 1923, has used social sciences as a window to tackle topics like human sexuality and globalization. Fellowships and grant applications are available online.
The National Center for Children in Poverty Develops and promotes policies to prevent child poverty in the United States. Full-time opportunities are available online.