Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Careers in the Nonprofit Sector

Nonprofit organizations are what their names imply. Their goal is not to make a profit at the end of the year; the goal is to provide a service to society for the greater good. The Visiting Nurses Association is a nonprofit. McDonald's is not.

The civil society Sector is another name for the part of our economy made up of nonprofit organizations. The Public Sector is made up of the Federal, State and Local governmental services; the Private Sector is made up of companies like McDonald's and IBM. The civil society Sector is made up of organizations like the Red Cross, the Girl Scouts, Sierra Club, PTA, membership associations and community based organizations. The civil society sector is the nonprofit sector.

This list of jobs is just a sample of the kinds of jobs available in the nonprofit sector (the term civil society sector and nonprofit are used interchangeably, which adds to the confusion). There is also a list of jobs that you might find in any of the three sectors. One can be a lawyer for the Federal, State or City government, for a private company or law firm, or for a community-based organization like an environmental group.


These job descriptions will help you think about the kind of work you'd like to do and what aptitudes are required for those jobs. The variety of jobs that are available assures that there will be a job that you love. And that's very important. 

Teen Center Director – Able to relate to kids; volunteer experience with youth groups or camp counselor; background in outdoor education; foreign language; computer knowledge; college degree required in education or related field.

Job Developer for Disabled Individuals - Experience working with the disabled; sales or marketing experience; confidence to sell idea of hiring developmentally disabled to employers; not easily discouraged; degree in social work or education.

Instructor in English as a Second Language - Need to be flexible and open-minded with students from other cultures; creative; college degree in education or foreign language; certification required by state.

Community Service Project Coordinator – Ability to work with different groups; understanding of how government works; assessing community needs, developing programs, procure funding and implement programs; Master's in related field.

Research and Advocacy Worker – Be able to identify, envision, and carry out projects; persuader and information gatherer; sense of optimism; hands-on research with site visits; strong writing skills; most jobs require at least a master's degree.

Human Services Director for Nursing Home – Outgoing, energetic and empathetic to different backgrounds and cultures; activities directors design physical, psychological and social programs; social services directors manages medical legal and other needs; activities director require state or national certification beyond bachelor's degree.

Online Activist – Strong Internet skills, html-writing experience and knowledge of UNIX; good organizational skills; think on your feet; duties would include maintaining World Wide Web site to update public on organization's activities; college desirable.

Peace Corps Volunteer – Adapt to difficult situations; previous experience in field such as health care, education, engineering, computer programming and agriculture; commit to two year stay; interest in foreign travel; college graduates and newly retired people.

AIDS and HIV Services Counselor – Commitment to working with people facing difficult times; caring and patient; working with social service agencies and health programs; skill in teaching about health issues; college and certification program.

Internet Curriculum Specialist - Teaching skills and computer background; training teachers to use internet; develop school curriculums centered around technology; master's in education or liberal arts.

Fund-raiser/Nonprofit Arts Organization - Researching and writing; marketing background; people oriented; able to collaborate with others; internships in non-profit; strong interest in the arts; liberal arts education.

Administration for Nonprofit Organizations – Self-motivated and disciplined; strong writing and editing skills; database management and desktop publishing; college course in management of nonprofits; graduate work available in this area. (see section on graduate schools in nonprofit management.)

Jobs in the Philanthropic Organizations

Executive Director of Nonprofit - Strong writing and communication skills; vision to develop long and short range plans; able to follow policy set by Board; administrative supervision; fiscal management and fund development.

Program Officer for Foundation– Review and evaluate proposals; work with grantees to develop their projects; strong communication skills, both written and verbal; work with Board to fulfill goals of organization; computer skills; experience running programs; college degree.

Program Manager – Ability to work with people of diverse views and different backgrounds; supervising and managing staff; coordinate community resources; interest in seeing change; strong communication and management skills; college degree.

Grants Coordinator – Verbal and written communication ability; strong computer and financial skills; interpersonal skills for communicating with grant recipients; ability to work under a deadline; college degree.

Development Director – Coordinate effective communication and public relations strategies; solicitation and cultivation of donors; excellent organizational and communication skills; speaking and writing to diverse audiences; college degree.

Development Associate - Research and tracking of prospective donors; strong writing needed for proposal and reports; develop strategies for major gifts; flexible; good people skills; Bachelor's degree.

To see actual jobs being offered, visit the web site of Philanthropy Journal At http://www.philanthropyjournal.org/page15307.cfm

Jobs in the Nonprofit Sector | Jobs in the Nonprofit or Private Sector | Career Guides for the Nonprofit Sector | Graduate Programs in Nonprofit Management


The following jobs could be found in companies that are in the private sector as well as the nonprofit sector.

Acquisitions Editor– Enjoy delving into complex subjects; work well with people; sound critical reading skills; Bachelor's degree in liberal arts. Work could be found in commercial publishing houses like Random House or nonprofit publisher.

Circulation Manager – Like words and numbers; creative; strong administrative skills; good at deadlines; marketing background to entice readers to renew subscriptions; degree in communications, journalism or English.

On-Line Magazine Editor – Researching; reporting and editing skills using computers unique capabilities; adaptability in a changing business; liberal arts and computer background or information science.

Cyberlibrarian – Creativity and follow-through skills; computer and internet literate; teaching skills; programming skills; ability to manage people; experience in library work; Master's in library science.

Genetic Research Technician – Intelligent and inquisitive; goal oriented and self disciplined; internships and college lab work experience; good writing skills for grant applications; Bachelor's in biology or related field.

Translator – Painstaking and exacting standards; self motivated perfectionist; Japanese, Chinese and/or Middle Eastern and Eastern European languages in demand; fluent in English and languages of business, engineering and law; handle pressure.

TV News Producer – Public or Network Television – Ability to write concise, lively copy; think on your feet; work with team; visual and verbal ideas; broadcast journalist degree helps; internships often available.

Film Editor – Artistic ability and technical skills; experience in cutting room; film school graduate work; work for non-profit projects i.e. National Geographic; develop student film projects in high school.

University Computer Operations Coordinator – Inquisitive, thorough and persistent; patient communicator; work-study programs while in school can lead to jobs; computer science good but not necessary.

Technical Writer, User's Manuals – Good basic writing skills; excellent verbal skills to communicate with product designers; able to reduce complex instructions to usable directions; journalism or liberal arts.

Secretary or Administrative Assistant – Attention to detail; follow procedures; proofread; meet deadlines; coordinate activities; work well with people; memory for details; handle business and administrative detail; high school or college education.

Accountant - Math aptitude and attention to detail; strong problem solving ability; social skills important in dealing with clients; analyze date ; work on a deadline; computer literate especially in financial programs; business degree and graduate work.

Lawyer – Strong reading, writing and speaking skills; analytical mind; ability to persuade; listening and mediating skills; a trustworthy person interested in justice; willing to work long hours; creative mind; college and law school. 

Jobs in the Nonprofit Sector | Jobs in the Nonprofit or Private Sector | Career Guides for the Nonprofit Sector | Graduate Programs in Nonprofit Management


Here are some more exciting careers in the Third Sector. Following the job titles are resources to help you find out more about careers in the nonprofit sector. The books outline qualifications, prospects, salaries and what someone actually does in their day-to-day work. We spend a lot of our lives working – we should enjoy what we do.

  • Community Organizer
  • Lobbyist for a Religious Organization
  • Campaign Manager
  • Legislative Researcher
  • Political Office Candidate
  • Housing Coordinator
  • Home Detention Caseworker
  • Certified Nursing Assistant
  • Educational Researcher
  • Elementary School Teacher
  • Teach for America Teacher
  • Public School Guidance Counselor
  • Director of Family Shelter
  • Child Support Case Officer
  • Policy Analyst Volunteer Coordinator
  • Labor Union Organizer
  • Grant Writer
  • Nonprofit Fundraiser
  • Researcher for Public Radio
  • Minister
  • District Wildlife Manager
  • Zookeeper
  • Wastewater Engineer
  • Parks Planner
  • Wetlands Ecologist
  • Organic Farmer
  • Editor – Environmental Newsletter
  • Reading Specialist
  • Special Education Teacher
  • Epidemiologist
  • Grassroots Organizer 

These career guides are available in your book stores or they can be ordered on the internet. Any of them would be an excellent addition to a career resource center in the library or guidance office of your school.

100 Jobs in Social Change by Harley Jebens

100 Jobs in the Environment by Debra Quintana

100 Jobs in Words by Scott Meyer

100 Jobs in Technology

by Lori Hawkins and Betsy Dowling Macmillan (1996) $14.95

This is an excellent series of books on careers. Each of the 100 job titles has a description, salary, prospects, qualifications and characteristics. There is also an interview with an individual about how they got the job, what they do all day and where they see the job leading them.

Making a Living While Making a Difference – A Guide to Creating Careers With a Conscience
By Melissa Everett Bantam Books
(1995) $10.95

This guide features a ten-step program for principled career development. Young people need to be encouraged to take risks and follow their dreams. It offers real-life stories of people and how they were able to find jobs that were harmonious with their values.

Exploring Careers – A Young Persons Guide to Over 300 Jobs
By JIST Publishing JIST Works, Inc. (1991) $19.95

There is a special section that helps students understand more about their interests, skills, life-style preferences and other things to be considered in career planning. It gives occupational clusters with stories about people in the field. A grid lists interests that go with skills to help students find what is right for them.

Do What You Are – Discover the Perfect Career for You Through Secrets of Personality Type
By Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger Little Brown & Co. (1995) $17.95

True career satisfaction has to do with finding a job that matches who we are, with our strengths. Finding a job that combines our abilities, interest and values will insure that we enjoy our work.

Careers for Dreamers and Doers – A Guide to Management Careers In the Nonprofit Sector
By Lilly Cohen and Dennis R. Young Foundation Center (1989) $24.95

It's the "What Color is Your Parachute?" for the nonprofit sector. It helps you assess your interests and define your skills, and give you the tools you need to carve out a rewarding career in education, health care, social services, the arts or philanthropy.

Order from the Foundation Center at www.fdncenter.org

Jobs in the Nonprofit Sector | Jobs in the Nonprofit or Private Sector | Career Guides for the Nonprofit Sector | Graduate Programs in Nonprofit Management