Young Professionals: Take a second look at non-profits

As an undergrad, a few years back, I made the great decision to use my skills to help people and start a career in non-profit PR. But now, I can’t help but think a non-profit could be the right choice for more bright, young professionals—if they only knew what they were in for.

Many students have somewhat skewed expectations for non-profits. So, I came up with three non-profit myths that I believe hinder students from considering non-profit.

Myth #1: I don’t want to be broke.

one.jpg I’m sure you’ve heard it before, “you can’t get rich at a non-profit.” Well, this is quite simply—possibly true, but don’t give up yet.

OK, the average salary of $72,132 for PR managers, as reported in a survey, is not the average salary of someone starting in non-profit. But who starts out as manager? No one and this is where non-profit can have its edge.

Starting at an agency or a big corporation, you most likely will have 10 or more people performing higher level PR, marketing, etc. Often the bottom rung means menial responsibilities and menial pay.

In contrast, at a non-profit typically less than a handful of people perform any communication function. This means you start with more responsibility which could translate into a pay bump (which can be small but noticeable).

And by the way, according to a 2006 report conducted by the Nonprofit Times, the salary of the average non-profit chief of marketing is more than that salary listed above, rolling in at about $72,600.


Myth #2: I’m not a peace-loving, tree-hugger

_sycamore-tree-jericho.jpg Many people at non-profits are extremely dedicated to a cause, but not everybody makes it their life. Being committed to an organization’s mission doesn’t mean you have to spend your free time at a rallies or animal shelters if you don’t want to.

Sure, you should believe in an organization if you want to work there, but if you don’t have a passion for the cause before you see the job posting doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply.

Most non-profits deal with a lot of the same issues for-profits do. Non-profits need well-rounded professionals who understand how their job can affect the bottom line.

As for the idea, that everyone needs to a “good” person to work for a non-profit, I think does a good job summing it up, “Most people who work in the nonprofit sector generally do care about making the world a better place….[But] Do not be surprised when you encounter difficult personalities, big egos, and office politics…”


Myth #3: I won’t get to enhance my skills

Of the three myths, this is clearly the most untrue. There are great olightbulb-screw.jpgpportunities for young professionals at non-profits to not only enhance their current skills but to develop many more.

Most non-profits need everyone to hit the ground running. From day one, young professionals are in the trenches coordinating large-scale projects and interacting with all the organization’s major players.

Although you may lick some envelopes, you’ll also develop campaign strategies and respond to crisis situations. If you take the initiative, you really can make a mark, which will help out down the road if you do decide to venture into other types of PR.


So with these myths more or less busted, I hope that more young professionals are willing to take a second look at non-profits.


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