Why do you work in the non profit field?
I was talking to a professional consulting friend recently about the advantages of working for a nonprofit agency. During the conversation, we discussed the pros and cons and, in the end, we agreed to disagree. Clearly you know what sector she is in.
When I started to really think about it, I realized that there is no other sector or profession I would rather be in than one that gives me the ability to fulfill my personal “why” while at the same time improving the lives of those around me.
With that, I thought I would write down the bullet points that articulate why I choose to work in the nonprofit world. You know, as the world and its value system seems to be changing faster than the weather in Connecticut, it’s important to take stock and do some personal reflection.
- It’s never boring. I have no idea what each day will be like. Can you imagine a job where you do the same thing every single day? I can, and in fact, I’ve worked in a couple of them. And I’d rather eat my own eyeballs than do that again. Each day in nonprofit work is like a snowflake. For instance, one day you could be focused on a grant, another day you could be planning a special event, hiring someone, talking to a client, carving a vision for the future, having a collaborative meeting, listening to your team or just expressing gratitude when writing thank-you notes to your staff.
- You learn and use all sorts of skills. Because we are so understaffed—I mean, because there are so many opportunities, we get to learn and hone all sorts of cool skills. You could be a CEO, COO and CFO all in the same day.
- It is casual every day! Look around at your colleagues. Where else can you dress this way and still be considered a respected professional? I wear jeans, sometimes, and each stain on my shirt or tie is a badge of honor.
- Nonprofit people are all uniquely different. We get to meet and work with amazing people every day, people so inspiring and awesome that our souls grow warmer and fuzzier just by being around them. People who are working each day to make the world better. Good-looking intelligent people.
- There are far fewer jackasses. Conversely, there are relatively few A-holes in the field. I mean, they exist, and you will have to resist the urge to poke your eyeballs out, but I think there is a far smaller number in our field.
- We are making the world better. I know, we hear that all the time, especially in our heads as we cry ourselves softly to sleep after failing to get a critical grant or something, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Folks, it’s still true! Our work directly helps to make people’s lives better, less lonely, less scary, warmer, fuller of color and music and happiness and sometimes, joyous.
- Ideas matter. Because we are flexible and surrounded by awesome people, ideas are much more likely to be taken into consideration and acted upon. In the other sector, from what I hear, it could take you years to build your credentials and climb your way up before your awesome idea sees the light of day. Here, if you have a good idea, chances are you could find some kick-ass partners and funders and get it done. Therefore, I’m going to be pitching so new ideas very soon. Hold on!
- There is fame and adoration and bragging rights. Ok, maybe not fame or adoration, but maybe respect and some admiration amongst your friends who are stuck in a cubicle wondering what the meaning of life is and thinking of the cool things you are doing to make the world better. Sure, they get paid better, but really many are envious of us, and that is totally worth the less fancy vacations and houses and cars and healthcare and organic blueberries, etc.,
There you go, our field is cool and so is everyone in it. Sure, there are tons of challenges and we are stressed frequently. But I disagree with my friend, it can be lots of fun. I love this work and the people I get to work with. I mean it. I can’t imagine doing anything else. At least, not until I create something that makes me independently wealthily…… NOT!