The changing face of nonprofits.
Why the switch? "On Wall Street, I was going home stressed to the hilt from worrying about bond ratings all day," says Smith, who also found the environment too straight-laced. "All corporate blue, no nail polish, no big earrings," she laughs. "At first, my friends kept asking why I had left all that money behind. I think the new glow on my face was the best answer I could give."
The grass is definitely getting greener in the nonprofit sector, thanks in large part to a renewed confidence in the economy. In 1995, according to the National Commission on Philanthropic and Civic Research in Washington, D.C., Americans donated more than $144 billion to nonprofit organizations. This increased public generosity--often evident in boom times--has benefited these organizations to the point where the sector now can afford to be an employer of choice. Gone is the image of do-gooders working inefficiently and at pittance wages for the sheer pleasure of helping others. The reality of operating with multimillion dollar budgets has led most nonprofits to adopt a more focused business approach. For the most part, today's non-profits run tight and lean, employ entrepreneurial tactics to compete for dollars more effectively and rely on the best and brightest talent they can find to give them a competitive edge.
Having developed a nearly insatiable need for people with business, marketing, financial, technological and other general and specialized talents and skills, many nonprofits are offering salaries comparable to those in the corporate sector, and in many cases superior to those in federal, state and local governments.
According to the Independent Sector, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group for nonprofits, there are approximately 1.1 million nonprofit (tax-exempt) organizations in the U.S., representing 27 categories of the Internal Revenue Code. They are as diverse as the National Football League, Harvard University and Fannie Mae. A third of these organizations are churches.
Because nonprofits cover so many fields of interest--charity, education, religion (faith based), health, science, literature, wildlife protection, the arts, even sports--it's easy to find a niche, whatever your calling.
The Independent Sector also reports that one in 10 Americans already works either full time or part time for a non-profit organization. In addition, more than 93 million Americans serve as volunteers, working an average of four hours a week.
As Daniel Lauber points out in his book Non-Profits and Education Job Finder (Planning/Communications; $16.95; 888-366-5200), you no longer have to rely on word of mouth to find out where the good jobs are in the nonprofit sector. "There are job listings online, on hotlines, posted in chapter offices, published in trade and specialty newsletters and magazines, and running in local newspapers," he says. In addition, a few executive search firms and recruiters handle nonprofit placements. One of the best ways to position yourself for a job is to become a volunteer for the organization of your choice, learn the lay of the land and make a name for yourself as a person who gets things done, advises Lauber. "It will also help you decide if work in this sector or at a particular organization is really right for you."
SOCIAL SERVICE--NOT AN EASY RIDE
Former Wall Streeter Tracy Smith, who majored in English and has a master's in urban policy and management from the New School of Social Research in New York, struck the perfect match for her skills and interest at the United Way of New York. So did co-worker Mavis Vann, a senior group manager and director, who oversees fund-raising in the real estate and investment services sectors for the agency. Vann feels at home pitching to bankers and other Wall Street types because she was an assistant treasurer at Chase Manhattan Bank before joining the United Way team in 1991. The 34-year-old, who has an M.B.A. from Western Michigan University, says that despite her corporate success, she felt she wasn't making a difference. "I wasn't getting up every day and feeling excited about going to work. Helping people double their money just wasn't all that fulfilling," she says. Although Vann took an undisclosed cut in salary when she left Chase, she now earns more than $60,000. "Nonprofits are it. I'm staying," she affirms.
The two most prevalent professional positions at human care agencies are those of fund-raiser and program developer. Fund-raisers are involved in developing, marketing and delivering strategies to help the agency reach its funding goals. Helping to set those goals can also be a key part of the job.
Program developers help to structure and deliver programs, services and other benefits to the people the agency is in business to support. At agencies such as the United Way, salaries for these jobs start in the low to mid-$30,000s. Heavily reliant upon volunteers to handle these tasks, smaller human care agencies, such as community-based job training centers or soup kitchens, do have paid administrative positions available, often in the range of $18,000 to $30,000, depending upon funding sources.
Whatever field your degree is in, you will need good presentation and writing skills. For this reason, it helps to have an under-graduate degree or work experience in a field such as marketing, business administration, communications or journalism.
"We're also seeing an increase in resumes from people with advanced degrees in economics, public policy and other specialized areas, which is excellent," says Margaret Carter, senior vice president of human resources, at United Way of New York. "But we'd also like to see more candidates with technical skills, such as accounting and computer technology."
The other prerequisite for employment in a human care agency is the desire to work hard. "Don't come in thinking it's an easy ride," warns Carter, a former consulting manager for KPMG Peat Marwick. "Most agencies must operate lean. That means your performance shows."
A HIGHER CALLING
The Rev. Angelique Walker-Smith has led a life of achievement, but always in the service of what many consider the world's richest employer, God. "Within the African American community, there are so many vocationally satisfying areas of faith-based work," she says. "You can do ecumenical work, teach in seminaries and religious private schools, work on church staffs, serve as youth ministers and chaplains at prisons and hospitals, or pastor a church."
Walker-Smith, 39, embodies the new breed of religious professionals who choose not to preach the gospel from a fixed pulpit, but instead work for ecumenical causes that "provide leadership in the urban community and help shape things for the better." She was the first African American woman to graduate from Princeton Theological Seminary with a doctor of ministry degree in 1995. Three years ago, she became the first African American, first woman and the youngest person to head the Church Federation of Greater Indianapolis Inc., one of the country's oldest church federations.
She also was the only clergywoman from North America to be elected to the Central Committee (the top governing body) of the World Council of Churches at its seventh World Assembly in 1991 in Canberra, Australia. Greatly in demand as a speaker, Walker-Smith also hosts her own television program on the local ABC affiliate and regularly appears on the Odyssey Channel program The Christian.
What do faith-based jobs pay? Depending on the denomination, size of the congregation or location, pastors, chaplains and rectors can earn anywhere from $15,000 to $100,000, which includes both housing and salary. The median range is $25,000-$35,000.
Prison ministries, paid by the city or state and the church, often range from the low $20,000s to the mid-$30,000s. Hospital chaplains, whose salaries are provided by grants from wealthy hospital foundations, well-endowed parishes or other sources, generally earn more. "Most traditional denominations, such as Episcopalian, Lutheran and Catholic, have what are called endowed parishes; they receive funds from foundations in addition to collecting money from their congregations," explains Walker-Smith. "In contrast, Baptist or Methodist ministers are supported from what comes out of the collection plate." Interestingly, for the sake of diversity, more endowed parishes are looking for people of color to fill jobs as chaplains, rectors and ministers.
Although each denomination sets its job qualifications and salary ranges, there are basic requirements for anyone interested in this field. "You can obtain your undergraduate degree in almost anything," says Walker-Smith, who majored in broadcast journalism and studied dance in college. For most professional-level jobs, such as administration or the ministry, the next step is to obtain a master of divinity (M.DV) or an M.A. in religion. For ordination, some seminaries also require alternative training such as clinical pastoral education, which teaches counseling skills. In some churches, youth ministers, assistant chaplains and volunteers don't need to be ordained. Also, while those in the African American Baptist and AME denominations should obtain at least a bachelor's degree, it's not always required. "In some churches," says Walker-Smith, "all you need is the calling to preach."
OPTIONS IN EDUCATION
You can say that Jacqueline McLeod essentially created her own job. She turned a health careers opportunities program she ran at Long Island University in Brooklyn, New York, into the Office of Minority Affairs for the Associated Medical Schools of New York, the only consortium of medical schools in the United States. As director, she hopes to help increase the number of minorities in the fields of medicine, health research, the life sciences and technology. Her office also provides a second chance for minority students who narrowly miss being accepted into medical school, explains McLeod, who also recently served as national president of the American Lung Association.
The energetic 54-yearl-old keeps a fat appointment book constantly at the ready to track nonstop travel between New York's 14 medical campuses, to job fairs and to conferences and meetings with a diverse audience of deans, faculty members, legislators, foundation heads and, of course, students. Armed with an undergraduate degree in nursing education, an M.S. in education and another in public health, McLeod is now working on her doctorate in health education.
Her staff of 40 full-time and part-time employees includes teaching assistants, tutors, clerical workers and program coordinators spread over the 14 campuses. Typically, a program coordinator should have the interesting blend of "administrative, management and writing skills, experience in the field of education and counseling, and perhaps a degree in personnel management," McLeod says. The average starting salary is $36,000 plus benefits.
Higher on McLeod's pay scale would be an assistant dean position, which requires either a Ph.D. or a medical degree, with an advanced degree or experience in minority affairs, affirmative action, educational counseling or student affairs, depending on the area of responsibility. The salary range for this type of position in New York is $75,000 to over $ 100,000. In comparable programs elsewhere, the salary range may be lower.
MIXING HEALTH AND WEALTH
Those who prefer to work in the aura of wealth should consider the world of private, family and community foundations, which also boasts a wealth of opportunities. "Think of foundations as social venture capitalists," says Mark Douglas Smith, who was recently tapped to head one. "We look for the greatest return in terms of social benefits, rather than financial profits."
In 1996, Smith, 46, was named president and CEO of the $2.1 billion Oakland-based California HealthCare Foundation, the grant-making arm of Blue Cross of California. "Our mission is to find the people, programs and causes doing or representing interesting work in the field of health and give them the resources to do it," says Smith.
Smith, who makes well into the six figures, earned a degree in African American studies from Harvard University and his medical degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Not content, he also obtained an M.B.A. in healthcare from the Wharton School, focusing on healthcare administration. He then became an executive vice president at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, served on the faculty at Johns Hopkins University and directed the school's AIDS clinic, a cause he cares about deeply.
Whatever the pre-med students' intended specialty is, Smith advises them to get as much of a liberal arts background as possible. "I now serve on advisory boards and committees because of my background in liberal arts and the humanities," he says. His 32-member staff has expertise in areas ranging from public health to grant-making.
At most foundations, you must have at least a B.A. to be considered for an entry level professional job starting in the range of $30,000-$40,000. On the higher end of the scale, those with M.B.A.s, M.P.H.s, CPAs and doctorates can expect to start at $60,000 and up, depending on their work experience. Although previous experience in nonprofits is a plus, candidates from government, academia, journalism and the corporate sector also do well. "We like to apply private sector expertise to solve public sector problems," says Smith. He advises those interested in foundation work to do more than just aim for a specific job. "You can be a journalist, an administrator, even an artist. If you've made a name for yourself in your field, a foundation will be interested in getting you on the team."
While foundations are good career choices, so are top-tier charitable organizations such as the American Cancer Society. Aurelia Stanley, 47, national vice president for human resources at the American Cancer Society's national office in Atlanta, left General Motors 10 years ago when she felt she had gone as far as she could go. A headhunter steered her to the Society. "It turned out that my opportunities for advancement here far exceeded those at GM," she says. "I'm now the top person in human resources, earning in the six figures--far more than the $70,000 I would have topped out at if I had remained in the corporate sector."
Like Stanley and the others we've profiled, those with the skills and experience to help a nonprofit run like a business and the heart to enjoy helping others can have a very profitable career in the nonprofit sector. Says Stanley, "The possibilities are endless."
RELATED ARTICLE: The Most Profitable Skills in Nonprofits
If you are transferring from the private or public sector to the nonprofit sector, here are the core skills, abilities and areas of expertise that will make the impression.
Analytical skills. Applying charts, reports, research and other data to solutions, programs and processes.
Marketing/sales amity. Packaging programs into a strong "product," and selling others on the benefits.
Proposal writing. The art of putting together formal written request for funding.
Presentation skills. Giving door, persuasive pitches to Averse audiences, including corporate supporters, volunteers and the media.
Creativity. Crafting strategies and campaigns to appeal to funding sources.
Organizational, and planning skills. Structuring fund-raising projects and keeping them on budget and on schedule.
PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT, DELIVERY AND MANAGEMENT:
Research. Collecting, organizing and disseminating data on which to build appeals, services and programs.
People-management skills. Directing teams, plus monitoring, motivating and measuring staff performance.
Project management/events planning ability. Developing implementing and/or managing programs or events.
Information systems. Setting up and maintaining networks, office applications, etc., as well as training end users.
Legal or paralegal. Helping the agency meet government guidelines and attract government funding.
Accounting/bookkeeping/budget management. Controlling expenses, maintaining records and cost planning.
Human resources/organizational development. Managing personnel issues and programs.
Purchasing. Buying products and services, and identifying and managing vendors.
Clerical skills. Supporting staff, volunteers, clients and agency programs.
Organization/business/management. Setting up and maintaining processes, systems and structures.
Writing skills. Creating a range of documents from reports to brochures and press releases.
Media/press or public relations. Creating and placing stories in the media, arranging interviews, and coordinating coverage with corporate community relations staffs.
Art/production. Producing materials to support campaign, marketing, program delivery and other efforts.
In addition to experience, educational attainment and computer literacy, you will be measured on past job performance, judgement, leadership, motivation, compatibility with staff and level of self-confidence, according to Dan Lauber, author of Non-profits and Education Job Finder. A high comfort level dealing with diverse audiences, ranging from corporate executives to community activists and politicians, is a strong plus. For more information, check out Lauber's book, or browse through the national job postings you'll find at the Community Career Center (www.nonprofitjobs.org).
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|Title Annotation:||Career Opportunities; includes list of most profitable skills needed; more employment opportunities will become available in the nonprofit sector|
|Article Type:||Cover Story|
|Date:||May 1, 1998|
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