Why I Work for Nonprofits

In my real life, when I’m not playing with my kitten or making delicious things come out of my kitchen, I split my time between a small nonprofit that serves disadvantaged youth through music and a large grant-making foundation. I always knew I wanted to work for organizations whose mission it was to improve our world, but it took me some time to finally come to where I am today. I could probably go on and on about why I love working for these organizations, but I’ve whittled it down to these 4 reasons:

  1. It’s a community.  At least here in the Triangle, nonprofits are supportive of one anothers’ missions. There are listservs and Facebook pages dedicated to connecting nonprofit professionals and their organizations to one another, resources, volunteers, you name it!
  2. Women rule. The nonprofit sector is dominated by women. I found statistics from 2009 saying that 73% of workers in this sector, 45% of CEOs, and 43% of board members (WomenMovingMillions.org). Granted, the wage inequalities between men and women CEOs still hold for the nonprofit sector, but the fact that there is a near 50-50 split between men and women CEOS is impressive. At the two nonprofit organizations I work for, one of my bosses is female, the other is male. The board members are about a 50/50 split between men and women at the small nonprofit I work for while the large organization has more men on its board (but to be fair, it’s a family affair and they only have sons). It’s pretty empowering to be in an environment where you’re  likely to be working with a room full of women.
  3. Transparency. Ok, technically by law nonprofits are required to make their financials public, but still, the fact that there can be open conversations about how your workplace spends money and what they value is refreshing. Plus transparency means accountability; when organizations or businesses must be accountable for producing results based on what they spend, you get better results.
  4. A little goes a long way. Nonprofits have limited resources which means they have to do their research and get creative. This can be a great thing for innovation, especially for techies and development nerds. Plus, you get to really focus on where the organization needs to spend money, not on where it can spend money. This reduces waste (which is good) and paves the way for long-term financial responsibility for one day when a little organization becomes a BIG organization.

At the end of the day, I feel more fulfilled working for a not-for-profit entity because I know the hours I worked don’t just contribute to my company’s bottom line or my boss’ ego, build up something larger than myself or my organization. They’re hours spent making a better community, and ultimately a better world.