Making the Move from Corporate to Nonprofit

by Gaby Gramont

TorchLight shares our tips for job-seekers considering a move from corporate to nonprofit work

candidate in orange sweater interviewing for their new nonprofit job

According to a survey by Nonprofit HR, 45% of nonprofits plan to create new jobs this year and 40% seek seasoned managers with a business background. With all of this opportunity abound, candidates seeking new marketing and communications jobs are usually eager to explore this sector, and rightly so. But for those making the move from the private sector to the nonprofit world, this transition should be managed with careful consideration of a few key differences between the two:

1. Stakeholders: In the business world, most business activity  focuses on outcomes serving key groups: customers and shareholders. While there are certainly other stakeholders, a for-profit’s objectives are laser focused on selling to customers and answering to shareholders.

While many for-profit businesses are starting to expand their definition of a stakeholder, in the nonprofit world, stakeholders usually cover a much broader base of interests. A sample of typical nonprofit stakeholders include the board, local and federal regulators, donors and members, the media and the community at large.

2. Culture: Market conditions have caused many nonprofits to adopt some of the business models found in the private sector. However they operate, nonprofits prioritize mission before profit, creating inherent differences in approach and organizational culture. Success in a nonprofit is often marked and measured by connections,  as well as allies and support, so managers must be comfortable operating in a collaborative, inclusive way that gets everyone behind you.

3. The Board: Nonprofit boards are often volunteers who are deeply committed and passionate about the mission of the organization. And the more active and involved the board, the more success a nonprofit can achieve in terms of fundraising and building alliances. This can work in the organization’s favor, but it also can prove challenging for a manager unaccustomed to working directly with a board of directors. Before taking on a role with a nonprofit, candidates should take the time to learn more about the board and its role in the organization.

While there are clear differences between nonprofit and for-profit organizations that should be considered in an employment search, candidates will do well by doing the same kind of research and preparation you would do for any job.

TorchLight is a trusted partner to influential companies throughout the D.C. metro area searching for highly-qualified candidates to fill their full-time, part-time, contract and consulting positions. Visit our job board, upload your resume, and contact us today to learn more!

Posted in Professional Development