When you think of nonprofits, you probably imagine something along the lines of the American Red Cross or your local homeless shelter. Nonprofits are the underappreciated joints that hold our communities together in moments of weakness or challenge.
The need for nonprofit managers is forecasted to rise 27% through 2020. Accordingly, demand is strong for grads who choose the online nonprofit management degree major. Career growth is high across the nonprofit sector. Many types of institutions, both private and public, seek professionals who know how to grow and sustain business enterprises whose primary mission goes beyond the commercial urge to turn a high profit. In the not-for-profit world, the goal is not to make money, but to create a valuable service that addresses a critical social need. Managers in the not-for-profit career sector share one value in common: they work hard to make their communities and the planet a better place. Nonprofit work spans many sectors. Educational institutions, healthcare clinics, social work centers, community service agencies and counseling centers employ the majority of professional nonprofit managers.
THE CAREER PATH
Nonprofit management may appeal to a diverse collection of professionals due to its expansive reach across various industries and interests. You may choose to work with an organization that focuses its activities on a particular demographic — such as children, or veterans — or an organization that focuses on a particular societal challenge — such as mental health, or long-term unemployment. Regardless of the direction that you may choose for your career in a nonprofit, you will need to be adequately prepared for a variety of oversight responsibilities through education and previous work experience in nonprofits and their services.
Part of the reward of working in nonprofits comes from the services that professionals are able to provide for their communities — by nature, nonprofit work is not for those who want a career that will lead them to wealth. ?The average salary for Social and Community Service Managers, for example, is just over $60,000. Keep in mind that this is significantly less than for-profit management positions, which pay approximately $91,000 per year.
For the highest-paying nonprofit work, look to federal and state government agencies. Earn a nonprofit master’s degree online to help you compete in government sectors and in high profile fields such as public administration and federal agency work. On the upside, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that we can expect steady and growing demand for qualified nonprofit management professionals in the years to come.
WHO IS THE IDEAL CANDIDATE?
Careers in nonprofits are unique for many reasons, and it is important for professionals to enter this field with the right mindset. The most distinctive quality of nonprofits is that they must be dedicated to public benefit. If you are interested in a career in the nonprofit sector, you must be prepared for an industry in which no one owns profit or shares, and which the end goal is net improvement, not net profits. Nonprofit management professionals must be prepared to combine their philanthropic and selfless leadership with an analytical mindset that allows them to evaluate data to provide effective, strategic guidance. In order to succeed as a manager in the nonprofit industry, communication skills and managerial skills are qualities that cannot be missed.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
Most professionals in the nonprofit industry do not enter the field through management, but rather are introduced in a different role that provides more hands-on services or different skills to the organization. Developing professionals will gain more insight and knowledge through hands-on experience in the industry than through any other educational method.
That being said most organizations will require a bachelor’s degree. A master’s degree can open up higher-level and executive gigs. If you’re not ready for management, jump into an administrative role. Like finance? Work in budgeting, communications or service programming. If you have a natural talent for sales or persuasion, consider fundraising. Start your own nonprofit or values-driven agency if you see a social or community need that isn’t being met.
If you enroll in any of the many online nonprofit management programs available, expect to complete core courses in human resources, fundraising, leadership, grant writing, statistics, social services management and public affairs. Volunteerism and leadership in public service are two other popular courses. Financial management is a huge part of running any successful nonprofit agency these days. Professionals employed in both public and private agencies will find online certificates and courses in financial planning, public administration, cost accounting and funding, budgeting and advanced grant writing helpful in addition to core coursework in professional people management. Closely related classes include fundraising, board development and philanthropy. Another closely related degree major is the online public administration degree. A non profit management degree caters to managers who specifically want to work inside public or governmental social service agencies.
For nonprofit management programs in particular, there is no programmatic accrediting body however any degree you see in our directory holds regional accreditation. Some programs may hold additional accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Finally, check with a program to see if they will provide an internship in conjunction with their academic curriculum, which may lead to opportunities for employment.
An online bachelor’s degree in nonprofit management will cost betwen $30,000 and $50,000. An online master’s will be slightly cheaper at $20,000, on average. Do your research to find a program that suits your personal needs.