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1. What is the social sector/philanthropy/nonprofit?

Nonprofits and foundations are mission-driven organizations measuring themselves by the impact they’re able to have on social or environmental issues like conservation, education, health, poverty, arts and social services, among others.

Like all management professionals, nonprofit leaders are responsible for the strategies, operations, teams and outcomes of their organizations. There is a wide range of nonprofit jobs, for example you can work as an accountant, event planner, web designer, manager, editor, researcher or almost any other job that you find in the private sector.

2. Benefits to working in the field

While nonprofits often engage volunteers, they also typically have full-time, paid staff members who actually make decent salaries. Of those offering lower salaries, many provide strong benefits packages and flexible work environments instead (not to mention the daily gratification that comes from knowing organizational decisions are fueled by the mission).

Professional development opportunities are abundant in nonprofit work. While smaller nonprofits may lack the structured training programs of large corporations, many nonprofits provide opportunities to take on responsibility quickly and collaborate with many different stakeholders, which helps staff develop diverse and in-depth professional skill sets.

3. Types of organizations

  • Direct service organizations: directly work to fight social issues. An example is organizations that provide job training, basic shelter, education and medical care directly to those in need.
  • Intermediary and capacity-building organizations: strengthen the sector overall by providing nonprofits with services and resources, including everything from recruiting tools to professional development training.
  • Policy and advocacy organizations: research, develop and support broader causes and interests, rather than working directly with individuals.
  • Foundations: philanthropic organizations that provide financial resources and technical assistance to nonprofits and that are often the “foundation” of organizations that don't generate their own revenue.