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ASU Lodestar Center Blog

How to Pursue an Awesome Career in Nonprofit Management

There are more than 1.3 million nonprofit organizations in the United States that employ more than 12 million people, with $340 billion in annual budget outlays. As the primary goal of nonprofit organizations is to advance, advocate or pursue a cause, it is understandable that many professionals want to focus their long-term career goals on nonprofit management. 

If that describes you, there are several things to know to accelerate your career in nonprofit management. They are: 

Understand the Nonprofit Sector

Nonprofit organizations offer services to the public that governments and businesses do not. Hospitals, universities and religious organizations have long been the center of much nonprofit activity, but nonprofit structures are continuing to evolve. New investors and for-profit professionals are starting to work in this sector, and the line between businesses and nonprofits is beginning to blur. 

Therefore, organizations are looking for new employees with varied backgrounds and experiences. Many business experiences and skills can be adapted to the nonprofit sector - such as project management, marketing and accounting. 

Know the Benefits of Nonprofit Sector Work

Working in nonprofit organizations carries many benefits. Understanding them from the start can make you more enthusiastic, which will be visible to potential hiring managers: 

Wear multiple hats: In many nonprofit organizations, you may have the opportunity to work in many business roles - from program manager, grant writer or event planner. 

  • More responsibility: Funding and resources in some organizations may be tight. This gives you the chance to grab more responsibility in your job. You also may have more flexibility in how you get the work done. 
  • Work with like-minded people: Many nonprofit professionals really enjoy working with people like them who care about the issue that the nonprofit is focused on. 
  • Purposeful work: Being able to contribute to a cause you believe in is a huge benefit of this type of work. Find a cause that you care about, and find a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to it for a great career.

Evaluate Your Skills and Experience

Take a few hours to review your skills and experience and how they apply to the needs of nonprofit organizations. This will make you more successful in finding a job opportunity that is a good fit for you. Show the nonprofit that you are the ideal person for the specific job title. 

If you think that your current skills do not exactly match the job description, do not be alarmed. Many organizations are open to hiring people without nonprofit work experience. They need professionals with experience in finance, administration, HR, marketing, fundraising, website maintenance and executive leadership. 

Build Educational Experiences

Some professionals wanting to transition to the nonprofit sector may find it beneficial to gain additional education. Many local colleges offer affordable courses in skills that can be applicable to nonprofit work, such as finance, marketing or accounting. 

Further, consider volunteering or interning for a nonprofit organization that you believe in. In addition, if there is a job opening in the future, you may have a better chance of being hired. 

For more advanced career professionals, you may consider earning a master’s degree, like the master of nonprofit leadership and management offered by Arizona State University. A master’s of public administration or MPA is similar to an MBA in that it offers a broad overview of training in various disciplines, but in the nonprofit world. Alternatively, consider a master of public policy or MPP that will teach you how to analyze, manage and lead in various public sector organizations. 


With the above information, you can really accelerate your career in the nonprofit world in practically any industry or specialty. 

Henry is Managing Editor of He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local businesses throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.


ASU Lodestar Center Blog