Dear Coach Joan: Career Advice
I’ve spent the last 15 years working in a management position for a large corporation.
My position came to an end six months ago when the company moved, and I opted not to leave the area. I anticipated a short job search period, but it has turned into a much longer one. So I expanded my search to include the non-profit arena, and am now actively interviewing for a position in a local non-profit that I feel does excellent work for our community. What are the key differences between the for profit and non profit sector? I know salaries would tend to be lower, but what else?
Good question and one that a couple of my clients have encountered as well. Sometimes people go out of their way to focus on being of help in the non profit sector and they even earn degrees specifically in working for non-profits. But interestingly, sometimes non-profits look for candidates with a corporate background to inject some best practices, and style that can balance out the typical ways of non-profits.
Having worked for both for profit and non profit organizations and with clients who’ve recently gone from one side to the other, I would say that there are three main differences:
- SALARY – In general, given the same responsibilities, salaries in a non-profit tend to run 15-20 percent lower. Let’s look to the mission to find out why. For profit companies are focused on maximizing profits, and they tend to reward employees whose jobs contribute to the bottom line. They are willing to pay for competitive candidates. Non-profits have missions that are focused on helping people or being of service to a community. They are not typically well funded or if they are, they use the money to support their purpose. For instance, the Red Cross. It takes in a lot of money in donations to help people in disasters around the world. It also uses a lot of volunteer energies, as do most non profits. People who are attracted to non-profits are typically willing to forego top pay to align their talents with the mission of the organization and get some alternative ‘non monetary compensation in knowing they are making a societal contribution.