Nonprofits are businesses with the purpose of making change. Typically, the mission of nonprofits is to serve, advocate, or pursue a "good" cause. To be considered a nonprofit, an organization cannot operate for the purpose of earning profit and cannot be government affiliated. 

Nonprofits are among some of the largest and most successful organizations, and despite common misconceptions, employees do earn a salary (although often a somewhat reduced salary). Nonprofits may also be referred to as not-for-profit, tax exempt, civil, independent, or non-governmental organization (NGO). Some examples of non-profits are hospitals, churches, charitable organizations, and educational institutions.

How to Get Started

4 steps to get you started in a career in nonprofit

  • Volunteer in a non-profit to see how a non-profit organization is structured.
  • Look at Great Nonprofits and identify 3-5 non-profit issues you are interested in and do some research.
  • Once you have identified non-profit issues you are interested in, select 3-5 organizations, do research.
  • Go to a job website and read job descriptions in non-profit organizations. This will assist you in understanding the skills and competencies that are needed.


Since the nonprofit industry is so vast, it encompasses many types of skills. It is likely that you could find a position within a nonprofit that would allow you to use your skill set.

  • Dedication
  • Oral and written communication skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Enthusiasm
  • Flexibility
  • Creativity

Degrees and Certifications


Job Functions

Grant Writers

Grant writers research sources of funding for which their organizations are eligible. They prepare and maintain records regarding applications, funding received, and how funds are spent.

Development Managers

Development managers create their organizations fundraising strategy and supervise fundraising activities. They meet with potential donors to explain how donations are used to serve the community.

Case Workers / Case Managers

Case workers or case managers assess clients' needs and work with them to develop a treatment plan, choose suitable resources, and ensure that the services provided are appropriate.

Program Managers

Program managers are responsible for running a specific program within a nonprofit organization. Some of their responsibilities might include hiring staff, overseeing project funds, and ensuring that the program is operating efficiently. 

Community and Social Service Assistants

Community and social service assistants work for nonprofit organizations, for-profit social service agencies, and state and local governments.

Social and Community Service Managers

Social and community service managers coordinate and supervise nonprofit/social service programs and community organizations. They direct and lead staff who provide social services to the public.

Health Educators

Health educators work in a variety of settings including hospitals, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, doctors' offices, private businesses, and colleges. They teach people about behaviors that promote wellness and develop programs and materials to encourage people to make healthy decisions.