Giving Back

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Career opportunities abound in the nonprofit sector

Nonprofit organizations require the talents of many different types of workers and not just those looking to volunteer.

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, more than 1.4 million nonprofit organizations operate within the United States alone, so individuals who hope to work in the nonprofit sector have many organizations to choose from.

Even though they do not aim to turn a profit, nonprofit organizations still face the same challenges and have the same needs, including the need for competent staff members, as many for-profit businesses. In addition to earning their livings, employees of nonprofit organizations often thrive on the notion that they are doing their share to make a difference in the world.

As with any other company, nonprofits have to fill certain roles in an organization. The following are some common job descriptions as they pertain to nonprofit organizations.

• Executive officer: The executive director or president of a nonprofit reports directly to the organization's Board of Directors. He or she will have strategic and operational responsibility for the nonprofit's staff, expansion, programs, and daily mission. The ED will serve as a coach to help retain and develop the nonprofit's senior management team, depending on the size of the organization. He or she also will serve as a liaison between the board and the employees.

• Chief financial officer: The size of a nonprofit, the complexity of its programs and its revenue sources will drive the responsibilities of the CFO. At smaller nonprofits, the CFO may branch out beyond complex finance and investment activities to take on functional and even problem-solving capabilities. At larger nonprofits, the CFO may be more involved with reporting and meeting the requirements of government contracts.

• Fundraisers: Fundraising is a key component for nonprofits and how many of them remain operational. Portions of fundraising efforts are devoted to corporate operations, while the remainder will be allocated for the cause. Fundraising can be broken down further into various niches, depending on the nonprofit's size. Annual funds, alumni affairs, direct marketing, grant seeking, and donor relations are various parts of the larger fundraising picture. If the nonprofit has a large fundraising staff, each of these divisions may be handled separately. Otherwise, all of them may be grouped under the umbrella fundraising title.

• Public relation specialist: A public relations or marketing professional works with senior management or independently to develop a communications plan for the organization. He or she will develop the nonprofit's core messages and ensure consistency across various media. A PR professional also will respond to inquiries about the organization. In times of crisis, the PR professional will downplay any negative news and work to shed positive light on the organization.

• Administrative roles: Nonprofits need accounting and financial professionals, office administrators, human resources employees, information systems and IT workers, and a staff to handle marketing. Administrative positions often overlap inside small nonprofit organizations.

Nonprofits may not have the same pay structure as other private organizations, but nonprofit professionals often find their jobs rewarding.