Nonprofit and Profit Careers

3, 4, 5

To define profit and nonprofit organizations and explore the variety of careers available within those sectors. Students will prepare questions and then interview individuals involved with those careers.

Lesson Rating 
PrintThree One-Hour Class Periods

The learner will:

  • brainstorm ideas and conduct Internet research to create a list of careers in the nonprofit and profit sectors.
  • based on knowledge of state resources, decide which careers are most logical in his/her state.
  • identify family members and acquaintances involved with the identified careers.
  • prepare a set of research questions to explore identified careers.
  • interview panel members about their careers and gather information about careers in for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.
  • Chart paper
  • Internet access
  • Careers (Handout One)
Home Connection 

Some family members or acquaintances may be contacted to be panel members. See Extension for further homework.



  1. Anticipatory Set: Show students a variety of tools used by workers in profit and nonprofit organizations (i.e. wrench, book, violin, stethoscope, baseball) and challenge them to name the for-profit and not-for-profit careers associated with the objects.

  2. Explain the difference between profit and not-for-profit. Define the different sectors: business, family, nonprofit, and government.

  3. Brainstorm on a chart several examples of profit and nonprofit organizations/careers. Explore the Guidestar website for many examples.

  4. Ask students to make lists of acquaintances or local people employed in the brainstormed careers that you can use as a contact list.

  5. Day Two

  6. Contact four persons to form a panel comprised of two people employed in for-profit organizations (e.g., lawyer, repair person, hair stylist, business owner) and two from nonprofit organizations (e.g., teen center director, minister, teacher, doctor, city planner).

  7. Have students prepare a list of questions to ask the panel to explore the identified jobs and advantages and disadvantages to working in the different sectors. They should conduct some research on the history of the occupations, descriptions, functions, and training required.

  8. Discuss the difference between natural resources, human capital, and capital equipment in the production of a good or service.

  9. Day Three

  10. On the day of the panel discussion, students ask their prepared questions and listen to the questions and answers of others. They will use their knowledge throughout the unit, so encourage note-taking and careful listening to all questions and answers. (Remind students how to be gracious hosts.)


Each student will write a thank-you note to one of the presenters. In the letters, the students will identify whether the person represented the profit or nonprofit sector and detail some specific facts and observations they learned about the career. The letters should make the guests feel that their time was well spent.


Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.5 Define the terms "profit" and "not-for-profit."
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.4 Define each of the sectors: business, government, civil society, and family.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define and give examples of civil society sector corporations.
      2. Benchmark E.10 Identify local people who have jobs in the civil society sector.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 02. Careers In The Nonprofit Sector
      1. Benchmark E.2 Describe a job in the civil-society and for-profit sectors.