2020 Guide to Nonprofit Jobs & Careers [Complete Guide]

March 5
16 min read

Want to find a job that makes a difference?

Then a career in the nonprofit sector just might be for you.

Working at a nonprofit organization gives you the opportunity to use your skills and talents towards a good cause.

Usually, they have a direct impact on the world and it can give you a real sense of accomplishment. 

So, if you’re wondering how you can start working at a nonprofit - you’ve come to the right place.

Be sure to read on to find out:

  • Nonprofits 101 - Everything You Need to Know
  • 5 Most Common Nonprofit Jobs 
  • 5 Biggest Nonprofit Employers 
  • How to Find a Nonprofit Job - 4+ Job-Boards 
  • Working in a Nonprofit - Complete FAQ

So, ready to start your nonprofit career?

Let’s get started!

Nonprofits 101 - Everything You Need to Know

To begin with, let’s get one thing straight: working at a nonprofit is NOT the same as volunteering.

When people think nonprofit, their mind often goes to volunteering at places like animal shelters and soup kitchens.

That is, however, not necessarily the case.

Sure, you CAN temporarily volunteer in a nonprofit organization, but you can also work there full-time (WITH a paycheck). 

After all, a nonprofit is the same as any normal business, but with one key difference.

A nonprofit organization is, essentially, a company without ownership. 

Businesses and companies have shareholders, and the goal of the business is to generate profits through whatever product or service they provide.

Nonprofits, on the other hand, operate based on a goal. i.e. prevent and alleviate human suffering, promote healthy development for the youth, and so on, depending on the organization. 

All revenue generated by the organization is used to reach this goal.

As such, the company never actually makes a profit.

Now that we’ve explained what’s a nonprofit, we’ll teach you how to start your career.

Landing a Nonprofit Job

As with any other position, to get a nonprofit job, you need to go through the whole standard application process. I.e. make a resume, match it with a cover letter, etc.

Here are some of the best resources on how to do that

Job-search Process Resources

Using a resume builder is the biggest favor you can do to your career. With Novoresume’s 16+ job-winning templates, you can edit, adjust, and customize your resume for the ideal nonprofit job and have it ready in under 10 minutes.

This guide covers everything you need to know about crafting a job-winning resume and what to include within. Tips, tricks, and examples included! 

You should pick your resume format depending on your work experience and where you are in your career right now. This guide covers the 3 main formats and when to use each.

A resume objective is optional, but you might want to include it if you’re looking for your first job or you’re making a career change into nonprofit. The guide covers real-life examples for different industries and how to structure a resume objective for your job.

A good resume tells the hiring manager that your resume is worth reading by highlighting some of your biggest achievements to date. Learn how to write one and see examples within.

A cover letter is a 1-page document that goes alongside your resume. Check out this guide to learn how to write one!

Need some inspiration? Check out some of these cover letter examples. 

You’re bound to hear these questions at just about any interview. Check out the guide for the full list of questions and sample answers.

At the end of the interview, it’s your turn to ask some questions. Here are 15+ common questions you can ask to learn as much as possible about the company you’re applying to.

Pro Tip: Most nonprofits organize volunteering programs. So, if you’re wondering how to get your foot in the door - you can start by volunteering and THEN apply for a job.

So, ready to dive into the deep world of nonprofit jobs?

Here’s what you can expect:

5+ Most Common Nonprofit Jobs

Because nonprofits work just like normal companies, they tend to hire all sorts of roles.

All the usual job ads you’re used to seeing in a standard organization? All of them apply to nonprofits as well.

There are, however, some jobs that are exclusive to the nonprofit sector.

This includes roles dedicated to nonprofit activities like raising funds, outreach, volunteering, and more.

Some of the most common nonprofit jobs include:

Executive Director

The responsibilities of a nonprofit executive director are similar to that of a for-profit one.

An executive director sits on top of a nonprofit organization and is responsible for providing leadership, and reporting to the board of directors and its committees.

They oversee the heads of each department in a nonprofit and make sure everything is going on track. 

The smaller a nonprofit, the more involved an executive director might be. 

So, a lot is going to depend on the specific organization and how they do things.

Average salary: $65,732

Major Gifts Officer

The major gifts officer handles the strategy behind who a nonprofit accepts donations from.

Major gifts, in this case, are the largest “gifts” an NGO can receive.

For larger organizations, gits over 00,000 are considered major.

While for others, $2,000 can be a major contribution.

So, the role is partly tied to the size of the organization.

For larger nonprofits, the major gifts officer is likely to be part of a team of officers.

Whereas for smaller organizations, an existing staff member might be more directly involved in the gifts process

Average salary: $68,662

Grant Writer

Most nonprofits collect their grants from proposals sent to foundations or governments.

And who writes those proposals?

That’s right!

The grant writer.

The writer’s primary tasks include securing funds for organizations by writing grant proposals, and/or other supporting material.

These writers may be working on several projects at the same time on a tight deadline.

So, to develop great proposals, grant writers need to be familiar with the organization’s programs, goals, and any financial needs.

While writing and researching skills are essential here, they will also be working closely with campaign managers or even the executive board.

Though challenging, the role can also be professionally and personally rewarding.

Average salary: $49,118

Outreach Coordinator

An outreach coordinator typically works with a nonprofit, medical or an educational organization and is directly involved with public relations or fundraising work.

They’re primarily responsible for establishing connections with people or institutions in the broader community. 

This can include creating sponsorship agreements and developing relationships with businesses, or other relevant organizations.

From setting budgets to managing volunteer committees and finding sponsors, you’d be relying on a lot of interpersonal and leadership skills to help the organization grow.

You would also be speaking on behalf of the NGO and be the voice of the organization by advocating for your projects in public campaigns.

Average salary: $41,320 

Volunteer Manager

The main role of a volunteer manager is to efficiently coordinate all the volunteers working at the nonprofit.

This can include everything from the screening process and interviews to managing volunteer paperwork and identifying where to put their skills to use.

Most volunteer managers will end up wearing many hats, depending on what’s needed for the project at hand.

But for the most part, they will be responsible for maintaining and managing a team of volunteers working under them.

They will be helping the volunteers grow by recording their progress, challenges, and results as the organization grows.

Average salary: $38,973

For the most part, when working at a nonprofit, you should expect the salary to be lower than in a corporate setting.

But on the bright side - you get to work for a worthy goal!

And for some, that’s more rewarding than a high salary.

Here are some more jobs you can expect at a nonprofit:

120+ Other Nonprofit Jobs

You can expect to see plenty of jobs with the same titles as their for-profit equivalent in an NGO.

Here’s a list of few other jobs you can find at a nonprofit:

47 Nonprofit Management Jobs

  1. Administrator for Nonprofit Organizations.
  2. Campaign Manager.
  3. Business Office Supervisor.
  4. Community Health Director.
  5. Community Relations Director.
  6. Development Director.
  7. Project Manager.
  8. Development Manager.
  9. Directory of Family Shelter.
  10. Director of Specialist Initiatives.
  11. Director of Support Services.
  12. Executive Director of Nonprofits.
  13. Advocacy Director.
  14. Chief Association Executive.
  15. Compliance Director.
  16. Critical Care Director.
  17. Housing Program Manager.
  18. Program Director.
  19. Senior Program Manager.
  20. Volunteer Director.
  21. Volunteer Manager.
  22. Volunteer Services Director.
  23. Volunteer Program Manager.
  24. Teen Service Director.
  25. Program Services Manager.
  26. Nonprofit Administrator 
  27. Nonprofit Executive 
  28. Planning Manager Director.
  29. Team Leader.
  30. Housing Coordinator.
  31. Public Relations Manager.
  32. School Director.
  33. Corporate Giving Manager.
  34. Foundation Program Officer.
  35. Advocacy Director.
  36. Critical Care Director.
  37. Creative Manager.
  38. Community Service Project Coordinator.
  39. Membership Manager.
  40. Member Certification Manager.
  41. Member Services Director.
  42. Donor Relations Manager.
  43. Human Resources Manager.
  44. Information Technology Manager.
  45. Grant Proposal Manager.
  46. Social Work Manager.
  47. Special Events Director.

26 Nonprofit Fundraising Jobs

  1. Director of Development.
  2. Vice President.
  3. Fundraising Manager.
  4. Corporate Giving Manager.
  5. Contracts Specialist.
  6. Planned Giving Coordinator.
  7. Grant Administrator.
  8. Grant Coordinator.
  9. Grant Writer.
  10. Community Fundraising Manager.
  11. Development Coordinator.
  12. Development Associate.
  13. Financial Aid Representative.
  14. Donor Relations Manager.
  15. Outreach Associate.
  16. Program Coordinator.
  17. Program Officer for Foundation.
  18. Trust Fundraiser.
  19. Head of Supporter Services and Fundraising Compliance.
  20. Major Gifts Officer.
  21. Fundraising Research Consultant.
  22. Fundraising Community Manager.
  23. Foundation Director.
  24. Member Certification Manager.
  25. Member Services Director.
  26. Special Events Coordinator.

13 Nonprofit Communication Jobs

  1. Communication Director.
  2. Communication Coordinator.
  3. Community Outreach Specialist.
  4. Grassroots Organizer.
  5. Public Relations Manager.
  6. Program Manager.
  7. Publicist.
  8. Marketing Associate.
  9. Social Media Coordinator.
  10. Graphic Designer.
  11. Lobbyist.
  12. Online Activist.
  13. Development Communications Specialist.

12 Nonprofit Technical Jobs

  1. Chief Technology Officer.
  2. IT Manager.
  3. IT Specialist.
  4. IT Systems Manager.
  5. Programmer.
  6. Data and Technology Associate.
  7. Enterprise Cloud Architect.
  8. Policy Analyst.
  9. Web Developer.
  10. Software Engineer.
  11. Technology Consultant.
  12. Multimedia Engineer.

8 Nonprofit Education Jobs

  1. Teacher.
  2. Teacher Assistant.
  3. Education Coordinator.
  4. School Director.
  5. Youth Life Educator.
  6. Education Policy Specialist.
  7. Child Care Assistant.
  8. Curriculum Developer

7 Nonprofit Human Resources Jobs

  1. Head of Human Resources.
  2. Human Resources Manager.
  3. Event Team Recruiter.
  4. Job Developer.
  5. Team Leader.
  6. Volunteer Coordinator.
  7. Labor Union Organizer.

7 Nonprofit Health Care Jobs

  1. Community Health Director.
  2. Medical Assistant.
  3. Nursing Assistant.
  4. Licensed Practical Nurse.
  5. Physician.
  6. Therapist.
  7. Pharmacy Technician

5 Biggest Nonprofit Employers

Already figured out what kind of job you want to do?

Good!

Now, here are some of the biggest nonprofit employers you can start applying to:

Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is the largest American nonprofit organization center that focuses primarily on medical research.

For more than 100 years now, the foundation’s principle has been to provide patients with the best care based on research, training, and best clinical practices.

All income from the fund is used to upgrade services, train medical doctors, and support treatments for patients.

And in total, they employ up to 63,000+ people, including physicians, scientists, and administrative and allied health staff.

Feeding America

Feeding America is a nonprofit organization that focuses on ending hunger in America, through a number of member food banks spread across each state.

The nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization works to connect people with food and end hunger.

The organization has an estimated number of 700+ employees that work together with individuals, charities, businesses, and governments to end hunger.

Red Cross

The Red Cross organization is one of the most well-known organizations and networks all over the globe.

In short, the organization serves people who suffer from disasters around the world.

In order to help ease their suffering, Red Cross calls for support of volunteers, sponsors, and partners on a wide network - which includes 19,000 paid employees and up to 300,000 volunteers.

From donating blood to protecting universal human rights, the organization is devoted to providing assistance to victims of conflict and violence everywhere.

United Way

United Way is a nonprofit organization with a worldwide reach, and a goal to provide people with the tools, education, and health to explore their own potential.

On a more practical level, the organization is a fundraiser and a social service provider.

Each United Way is locally managed across 1,8000 communities in over 40 countries and territories worldwide, with an estimated number of 111 employees in total.

They raise money primarily by workplace campaigning and then distribute the money raised to local nonprofits or their own social service programs.

Through this, they’re fighting for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community.

Charity: Water

Charity: Water is a nonprofit organization founded in 2006 that is set on ending the water crisis in our lifetime.

Their goal is simple. They’re dedicated to bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries all over the world.

And the way they go about doing this is what’s noteworthy.

They track every project and dollar they raise and make sure that 100% of the donations go to funding water projects.

Meanwhile, private donors cover their operating costs and keep their finances an open book.

In total, the organization has up to 80 employees and has helped fund up to 25,000 water-related projects in 24 countries.

Now, there are thousands of other great nonprofits out there and this is by no means a comprehensive list.

If you’re looking for other potential organizations, we put together this long list of 150+ other nonprofit employers by the sector.

There’s a lot to cover here, so let's get started!

150+ Other Nonprofit Employers

18 Health Care Based Nonprofits

  1. Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition(GAIN)
  2. Health Leads
  3. Medic Mobile
  4. Basic Needs
  5. HealthWell Foundation
  6. African Medical and Research Foundation(AMREF)
  7. D-Tree International
  8. Global Viral
  9. Marie Stopes International
  10. Mercy Ships
  11. Mount Sinai Health Systems
  12. Vision Spring
  13. International Medical Corps
  14. Mothers 2 Mothers
  15. PATH
  16. Boma Project
  17. Village Reach
  18. Partners in Health
  19. The Task Force for Global Health

22 Global Hunger Based Nonprofits

  1. A Growing Culture
  2. Agricultural Biodiversity Community (ABC)
  3. Bioversity International
  4. Community Alliance with Family Farmers
  5. Food First
  6. IFOAM Organics International
  7. The Carbon Underground
  8. Food for the Poor
  9. Houston Food Bank
  10. The Green Shoots Foundation (GSF)
  11. Kiss the Ground
  12. Millennium Institute (MI)
  13. The Land Institute
  14. Groundswell International
  15. Navdanya
  16. Heifer International
  17. Food and Water Watch 
  18. INGA Foundation
  19. The Small Planet Institute
  20. Grameen Foundation
  21. The Hunger Project
  22. Center for Food Safety

30 Education Based Nonprofits

  1. Achieve
  2. Corazones Para Peru
  3. PIE (Policy Innovators in Education) Network
  4. 4th World Love
  5. Teach For America
  6. CloudHead
  7. Child Empowerment International
  8. AERA, American Education Research Association
  9. The Annie E. Casey Foundation
  10. CTQ, Center for Teaching Quality
  11. Citizen Schools
  12. Khan Academy
  13. BellWeather Education Partners
  14. The Posse Foundation
  15. New Futures Organization
  16. One Laptop
  17. Room to Read
  18. Uncommon Schools
  19. Peer Forward
  20. The Broad Foundations
  21. The School Fund
  22. Shared Interest
  23. Blue Engine
  24. What Took You So Long?
  25. WhizKids Workshop
  26. KIPP
  27. New Teacher Center
  28. Teach Plus
  29. New Leaders
  30. The Education Trust

88 Other Nonprofit Based Employers

  1. Salvation Army
  2. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
  3. Habitat for Humanity International
  4. Americares Foundation
  5. Goodwill Industries International
  6. Boys & Girls Clubs of America
  7. Direct Relief  
  8. Catholic Charities USA
  9. Nature Conservancy
  10. Lutheran Services in America
  11. American Cancer Society
  12. World Vision
  13. United States Fund for UNICEF
  14. Step Up for Students
  15. MAP International
  16. American Heart Association
  17. Samaritan's Purse
  18. Planned Parenthood Federation of America
  19. Cru
  20. Patient Access Network Foundation
  21. Save the Children Federation
  22. Catholic Relief Services 
  23. Cross International
  24. Entertainment Industry Foundation
  25. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society 
  26. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  27. CARE USA
  28. Doctors Without Borders USA
  29. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  30. Make-A-Wish Foundation of America
  31. Educational Media Foundation
  32. Delivering Good
  33. Shriners Hospitals for Children
  34. American Civil Liberties Union and Foundation
  35. Matthew 25: Ministries
  36. The Arc
  37. St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance
  38. Ronald McDonald House Charities
  39. Carter Center
  40. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
  41. Young Life
  42. Helen Keller International
  43. Teach for America
  44. Alzheimer's Association
  45. Barack Obama Foundation
  46. Metropolitan Museum of Art
  47. Feed the Children
  48. City of Hope
  49. Marine Toys for Tots Foundation
  50. Scholarship America
  51. United Service Organizations
  52. Good 360
  53. Smile Train
  54. Houston Food Bank
  55. International Rescue Committee
  56. Junior Achievement USA
  57. UJA/Federation of New York
  58. Population Services International
  59. Easter Seals
  60. Humane Society of the United States
  61. JDRF International
  62. Mercy Corps
  63. ChildFund International
  64. Special Olympics
  65. Midwest Food Bank
  66. Boston Children's Hospital
  67. Susan G. Komen
  68. Smithsonian Institution
  69. Heart to Heart International
  70. Wounded Warrior Project
  71. Environmental Defense Fund
  72. Convoy of Hope
  73. Combined Jewish Philanthropies
  74. Wycliffe Bible Translators
  75. New York-Presbyterian Hospital
  76. Metropolitan Opera Association
  77. American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
  78. American Kidney Fund
  79. WGBH Educational Foundation
  80. Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago
  81. PATH
  82. Disabled American Veterans
  83. American SPCA
  84. Covenant House
  85. Rotary Foundation of Rotary International
  86. National Multiple Sclerosis Society
  87. World Wildlife Fund
  88. Paralyzed Veterans of America

How to Find a Nonprofit Job - 4+ Job-Boards

Most nonprofits use the same job boards to source talent as other companies.

But there are also job-boards dedicated solely to nonprofits.

Here are 4 of the most popular nonprofit job boards you can start using to find the right job.

4 Nonprofit Job Boards

Most websites are going to have alert settings or allow you to filter your searches based on the job type, position, location, and more.

So, once you have an idea of what you want to do, you can start with the following job-boards:

Idealist

Idealist is a nonprofit board that features up to 10,000 jobs at social enterprises, government agencies, and other organizations around the world.

The site has job listings, internships, actions, and volunteering opportunities.

Keep in mind that sometimes volunteering can lead to a paid nonprofit position, so, don’t be afraid to get involved directly!

Encore

Encore is a job board for individuals over the age of 50 who want to work in the nonprofit sector.

Its job listing page also offers an Encore Career Finder service that looks for more than 5 million encore-friendly job listings by field and location.

Work for Good

Work for Good is a simple nonprofit job board that lists up to 300 different nonprofit careers.

With more than 100,000 monthly visitors, the site is the go-to place for people looking to start a new career, transition to a new one, or simply move up the ladder in a mission-oriented organization.

The site has it all - local, foreign, as well as remote jobs in just about any career field.

You can filter by position type, salary, experience, and willingness to travel.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy

The Chronicle of Philanthropy is a particularly useful job board if you’re interested in fundraising.

But the site also has a ton of other different types of jobs - from starter positions to executive directors.

To access the job listings though, you may have to subscribe to the Chronicle.

But if you’re planning to pursue a long-term nonprofit career, it might be best if you do so as there’s a lot of valuable content you might find there.

Working in a Nonprofit - Complete FAQ

Have some more questions?

Discover answers below in our nonprofit FAQ!

Q: Do I need a degree to work in a nonprofit?

A: Depends on the role.

A bachelor’s degree can be the minimum education requirement for most entry-level jobs in nonprofit, just as they would in a for-profit organization.

Though, depending on the organization or the job role, sometimes just the experience and wanting to help is all it takes to get started.

If you don’t have a degree but think you’re still qualified to help, you should apply anyway!

Q: Do I get paid to work at a nonprofit?

A: Yes! Most of the time.

As we mentioned before, working at a nonprofit is different from volunteering.

In most cases, nonprofit employees do earn a salary.

That said, it’s often lower compared to for-profit salaries.

Q: How do nonprofits afford salaries for their employees?

A: Oftentimes, the profit comes from donations, donations, or other fundraising events.

How organizations go about generating that financial support is going to depend on the specific nonprofit itself.

Because every organization needs to pay for daily operations (office space, equipment, salaries, etc.), there’s going to be a certain sum of money set aside to keep the nonprofit going.

Q: Do I need to volunteer in a nonprofit BEFORE I get hired as an employee?

A: Not necessarily.

If you’re not having any luck landing a job in a nonprofit though, you can start by volunteering or doing an internship. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door.

Q: What kind of people do nonprofits hire?

A: Of course, this depends on the organization.

But for the most part, all nonprofits want people who are passionate about the cause.

A potential new hire may not have a ton of experience in the nonprofit role, but what they lack in experience, they can make up for it in passion and hard work.

Many nonprofit professionals are driven by their desire to make a difference in the world.

So, in some cases, being able to grow and learn with the organization is all it takes.

Q: Is a nonprofit career right for me?

A: Typically, nonprofits attract people who are willing to work hard to support a cause they believe in.

Though you’ll still have a salary within the organization - it might not be a lot. 

So if it’s the financial gain that motivates you, a nonprofit career might NOT be for you.

But for some people, working for the cause can be its own reward.

Additionally, the nonprofit job might also involve getting outside of your comfort zone.

For professionals who enjoy solving problems and looking for personal growth - this might be a good thing.

The organization can also help you discover what you’re truly passionate about.

So, at the end of the day, it’s a personal decision whether or not you should pursue a career at a nonprofit organization.

Think about your priorities and what motivates you, and go from there.

Key Takeaways

To recap, the journey to a nonprofit career is exciting.

The key is to put effort into finding the right sector and role, depending on what you’re passionate about.

If there’s a cause you’re passionate about and want to start your career at a nonprofit, consider these main key tips to help you out:

  • Working at a nonprofit is NOT the same as volunteering - you still get paid, as with a regular job. Keep in mind though that It’s just going to be lower than in a for-profit organization.
  • A lot of the job-search process steps are the same. Be sure to check out our other guides in the table of resources if you need help with using a resume builder, writing a cover letter, and acing the job interview.
  • When thinking of what you want to work in a nonprofit organization, you’re bound to see some unique jobs that are only in the nonprofit sector. But there are also other job roles you see just about anywhere else.
  • Getting hired at a nonprofit works the same way as in any other for-profit company.
  • Once you have an idea of what you’d like to do, you can then look at the list of nonprofit employers and job boards to kickstart your nonprofit career.
  • Finally, if you decide that working at a nonprofit is the right decision for you, be sure to think about what motivates you and start making a difference in the world!

Ready to start the job-hunt now?

Be sure to follow our career blog to stay up to date with industry-leading advice and more actionable tips on for your career.

Suggested reading: