What It's Really Like To Work At A Nonprofit

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s really like to work at a nonprofit, you’ve come to the right place. The good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful – we are not shying away from any of it.

Are you currently looking for a job in the nonprofit world? Perhaps you are currently considering a career change from the corporate world to the nonprofit world. Or, are you not sure whether you want a job in the nonprofit world or the corporate world? No matter your reason, we’re pulling back the curtain on the nonprofit world.

If you answered yes to any of these questions, we are here to help you by giving you a look into what it’s really like working at a nonprofit.

What It’s Really Like To Work At A Nonprofit

1. You are working for a good cause.

If you are working for a nonprofit, you are likely working for something that will directly impact other people in some way. And that is a beautiful thing.

No matter what your position is, if you are part of the nonprofit, all of your job actions have some sort of impact on whatever cause you are working for. Everything you do makes an impact. That is fulfilling for anyone, and always a great reminder of why you do the work that you are doing.

2. You do make money.

Contrary to “nonprofit,” unless you are a volunteer or an intern, you will have a paycheck. However, this may not always be as high as your peers in the corporate world.

Depending on what type of nonprofit you are working at, your salary can fluctuate depending on the amount of grants or funding that the nonprofit has for the year. Additionally, this can impact whether or not you receive a raise in a few years’ time or not.

The growth of salary does not happen as quickly as it may in other fields, and sometimes, it is not as secure. This does all depend on the nonprofit you are working for. However, many times, you are compensated in terms of a more flexible schedule or more days off rather than in terms of money.

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3. Sometimes, there’s no pens…

When it comes to a nonprofit, the majority of the money raised goes towards whatever cause you are working for. When people donate to your organization they want to be making direct impact, they most likely do not want to be supporting your overhead costs of running the nonprofit.

Additionally, if funding does decrease, obviously the goal is for as much to remain with your cause as possible. This, in turns, results in some typical office supplies to not be as typical. Sometimes, there may not be new pens. Sometimes, you may have run out of paper clips or printing paper.

4. Your work shows more. 

This is especially sure if you are working at a small nonprofit. The smaller the organization, the more your work shows, and the more your boss, your boss’s boss, your CEO, the President, and so on, can see all of the work you are doing (and the results of the work you are doing).

Especially for those in the early stages of their careers, that is a beautiful thing. In larger organizations, especially in the corporate world, it is more common for those at a lower level to not be acknowledged by the higher-ups.

5. You are much more hands on. 

In the nonprofit world, it is very common to be doing work outside of your job title. If you work in development, you may help out on a programmatic side. If you work in communications, you may be helping out on an administration side.

The phrase “all hands on deck” does fully apply to nonprofits. This can sound intimidating, but if you are up for the challenge, it is definitely a skill worth having. You are able to get your hands wet in more than just your field, making you even more well-rounded.

6. You tend to become a family.

All of you are working for the same, great cause. All of you are spending every day together, working towards this good. There is a commonality there that cannot be denied. Because of this, you tend to become more than just colleagues. You become more like a family.


Working in the nonprofit world is not for everyone. There are some people who love it and some people who hate it – as with everything in the world. But, if you are even the slightest bit interested in experiencing nonprofit life, I encourage you to go for it, even if it is just for a year or two. It is a great thing to have on a resume, and it is a great way to experience new things. Plus, many times, it is great in terms of work-life balance as well.

The above is just an inside glance as to some things you should know about the nonprofit world. Have you ever worked at a nonprofit? If so, share some of your experiences with us either on Twitter, or in the comments below.


By Samantha James

This author wishes to remain anonymous due to her position.