The Changing Face of Nonprofits

Forecasters predict that the nonprofit sector is the wellspring of employment opportunities for tomorrow. Here are the talent and skills needed to give this area heart.

M.B.A. in healthcare from the Wharton School, focusing on healthcare administration. He then became an executive vice president at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, served on the faculty at Johns Hopkins University and directed the school’s AIDS clinic, a cause he cares about deeply.

Whatever the pre-med students’ intended specialty is, Smith advises them to get as much of a liberal arts background as possible. “I now serve on advisory boards and committees because of my background in liberal arts and the humanities,” he says. His 32-member staff has expertise in areas ranging from public health to grant-making.

At most foundations, you must have at least a B.A. to be considered for an entry level professional job starting in the range of $30,000-440,000. On the higher end of the scale, those with M.B.A.s, M.P.H.s, CPAs and doctorates can expect to start at $60,000 and up, depending on their work experience. Although previous experience in nonprofits is a plus, candidates from government, academia, journalism and the corporate sector also do well. “We like to apply private sector expertise to solve public sector problems, 11 says Smith. He advises those interested in foundation work to do more than just aim for a specific job. “You can be a journalist, an administrator, even an artist. If you’ve made a name for yourself in your field, a foundation will be interested in getting you on the team.”

While foundations are good career choices, so are top-tier charitable organizations such as the American Cancer Society. Aurelia Stanley, 47, national vice president for human resources at the American Cancer Society’s national office in Atlanta, left General Motors 10 years ago when she felt she had gone as far as she could go. A headhunter steered her to the Society. “It turned out that my opportunities for advancement here far exceeded those at GM,” she says. “I’m now the top person in human resources, earning in the six figures-far more than the $70,000 I would have topped out at if I had remained in the corporate sector.”

Like Stanley and the others we’ve profiled, those with the skills and experience to help a nonprofit run like a business and the heart to enjoy helping others can have a very profitable career in the nonprofit sector. Says Stanley, “The possibilities are endless.”

The Most Profitable Skills in Nonprofits
If you are transferring from the private or public sector to the nonprofit sector, here are the core skills, abilities and areas of expertise that will make the best impression.

Analytical skills. Applying charts, reports, research and other data to solutions, programs and processes,
Marketing/sales ability. Packaging programs into a strong “product,” and selling others on the benefits.
Proposal writing. The art of putting together formal written requests for fun
Presentation skills. Giving clear, persuasive pitches to diverse audiences, including corporate supporters, volunteers and the media.
Creativity. Crafting strategies and campaigns to appeal to funding sources.
Organizational and planning skills. Structuring fund-raising projects and keeping them on budget and on schedule.

Research. Collecting, organizing and disseminating data

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