The GuideStar Blog retired September 9, 2019. We invite you to visit its replacement, the Candid Blog. You’re also welcome to browse or search the GuideStar Blog archives. Onward!

GuideStar Blog

Nonprofit Career Myths: 8 that Nobody Should Believe

7301c3713694982e53bee58cb4cdcae4 Emily Green

When someone asks what you do and you respond that you work at a nonprofit, they may have more than a few questions. That's understandable because most people haven't been educated on the topic.

Here are a few myths that no one should believe when it comes to nonprofit careers.

Myth: They're Secure

One of the biggest myths related to nonprofit careers is that they're "safe" careers. Those non-profits also have some great backers. A nonprofit job is like any other. If a funder pulls their funding out, that nonprofit organization is done. Just like every business, it all depends on where the money is coming from.

Myth: The People Who Run Nonprofits are Well Experienced

That's false. Nonprofits can, in no way, provide the amount of professional advancement that a for-profit company can. Nonprofits are usually run by people who have a strong passion for the cause. They care about their employees and the cause, but they're not the best managers. Their experience usually isn't factored into the position that they hold, and there's little to no training.

Myth: They're a Waste of Time

How can you actually measure the impact of a nonprofit organization? By taking a look at the impact they have on their cause, of course. Are they a waste of time? Some could be, possibly, but most nonprofits are filled with people who strive to make their organization succeed in its goal.

Myth: You Couldn't Find Work Anywhere Else

Again, that's just simply not true. Throughout your professional career, you're likely to shift gears multiple times. This is nothing new, and it's extremely common for people to completely change tracks. Nonprofits focus on challenges, so they can be infinitely more rewarding than other jobs.

Myth: There's no Advancement

That's not true at all. If anything, it's the opposite. Remember earlier when I told you that managers are hired for their passion for the cause? Those people are the ones running the organization. Some of the larger nonprofits even have career paths. There's absolutely room for advancement, regardless of where you're from, how old you are, or what your work experience looks like.

Myth: There's no Money

This is probably the biggest myth that surrounds nonprofit organizations. Nonprofit simply means that the organization runs its business for the good of the people. The term "nonprofit" refers to the 501(c) tax code in the United States that says that the organization is subjected to tax on unrelated business income, regardless of whether the organization makes a profit.

As with any business, the ability to make money is the primary objective of nonprofit organizations. This money must be used to serve the public and complete their mission objectives. Without money, just like any company or organization, the organization would fail to meet their outlined objectives. In 2009, public charities reported $1.4 trillion in total revenue, with $2.6 trillion in total assets.

Myth: You'll be Poor

This is also not true. The CEO of a nonprofit organization, even at the low-end of the scale, makes quite a bit of money. Salary ranges anywhere from $60,000 to $135,000, depending on the size, scope, and mission of the organization. One of the largest, CharityNavigator, brings in $3.5 million or so each year, paying its CEO about $155,000.

Myth: Aren't Nonprofits for Old People?

No. If anything, they want younger people. Younger people have all the opportunity in the world to work for a nonprofit and climb the ranks to a CEO position. It all depends on how badly they want it.

These are just a few of the myths surrounding nonprofit organizations. Hopefully, this article will make you realize that nonprofits are a great place for younger people to work with plenty of room for advancement. Do you or someone you know work for a nonprofit? How do they like it? Leave us a comment below and let us know.

The preceding is a guest post by Emily Green. Emily is a freelance writer with more than six years’ experience in blogging, copywriting, content, SEO, and dissertation, technical and thesis writing.