Maybe you’re in college and are trying to decide what to do with your future, or maybe you’re tired of your current job and have decided that you want to explore a new career path. The road you choose is a career where you can make a difference and make lives brighter and better for others: a career in nonprofit work.
Through our resource guide, we’ll give you all you need to get started in the nonprofit world.
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A great first step to deciding if you want to pursue a career at a nonprofit organization is to volunteer at one. By volunteering, you can get a feel for the organization and the work to see if it fits with your lifestyle and interests.
A free website where you can search for volunteer opportunities near you or virtually, where you can do volunteer work remotely from any computer. You can also search for volunteer opportunities in a specific impact area by using the website's Causes feature, such as animals, senior citizens or education and literacy.
Great Nonprofits is a website that lists nonprofits that are seeking volunteers. Former and current volunteers leave reviews of different projects and nonprofit organizations with whom they have worked. Interested volunteers can search by city or state, or view a list of nonprofits that pertain to a certain issue, such as disaster relief, domestic violence or mental health.
Create the Good is a website that allows prospective volunteer to connect their passions with volunteer opportunities in their community. Volunteers can choose opportunities in their area or complete volunteer work from home; and can also search for opportunities for those over 50 years old or for projects that are open to volunteers with a disability.
Maybe you’ve spent the last five years of your life volunteering at different nonprofits, and now your goal is to turn your passion into a career and start a nonprofit organization of your own. Here are some resources to help you start your own nonprofit organization.
Grantspace, an arm of the organization Foundation Center, offers tips to starting a nonprofit through the Knowledge Base section of their website. They offer guidelines for research and planning, as well as information on how to take your first steps in starting a nonprofit career, seeking a grant and organizing the legal aspects of starting a nonprofit organization.
The United States’ based National Council of Nonprofits offers a wide range of nonprofit resources on their website, and plenty of information and links to help someone interested in founding their own nonprofit get started.
They provide general questions you may want to consider before starting a nonprofit, information on how to obtain and fill out the state and federal filings you will need to create your nonprofit and the policies you should have in place to make sure your organization runs smoothly.
They also offer lists of state-specific resources.
VelvetJobs Expert Tip
A nonprofit organization is another form of business. To survive, funds that come in must be more than the costs of running the organization. Make sure you've created a thorough business plan.
Nonprofit Hub has a clear cut list of seven steps to starting a nonprofit that make it clear for those new to the field to follow. They also offer a video presentation that outlines challenges one might face in starting their own nonprofit organization.
A list of the best crowdfunding websites on the web. Kick off your non profit career by quickly raising funds online. Each website charges fees so be sure to compare the pricing structures of each before committing.
Fiscal sponsorship is a way to pair your passion with an organization before your own nonprofit is recognized as tax-exempt under law. it’s a win-win for everyone.
Cullinane Law Group, based in Texas, is a law firm that works exclusively with nonprofit organizations and community groups. Their website offers a comprehensive overview of what fiscal sponsorship is and how it works.
Grant Space offers a wide variety of resources regarding fiscal sponsorship on their website.
They offer a one-hour webinar which shares information on explanations of the pros and cons of and how fiscal sponsorship can benefit a nonprofit organization, plus a guide to finding a fiscal sponsor, and more.
The website also houses a Fiscal Sponsor Directory, which allows a person to search for fiscal sponsorship based on different criteria, including location, service category or keywords.
VelvetJobs Expert Tip
Focus on impact.
While the fine details are important also think of the bigger picture and elucidate how your nonprofit can make an impact straight away. Your fiscal sponsor wants to share your mission with you, so communicate regularly.
The National Council of Nonprofits has a page of resources about fiscal sponsorship. The website includes an overview of fiscal sponsorship, answers legal questions that may arise and offers a sample fiscal sponsor agreement.
Nonprofit Expert has an overview of fiscal sponsorship as part of their Nonprofit 101 series. Their website answers questions about fiscal sponsorship and offers a variety of resources, including videos and e-books.
Having a passion for nonprofit work is fantastic, but passion doesn’t pay the bills. Here are some resources on how to find donors to contribute to your nonprofit’s goals and mission.
Know How Nonprofit offers several pages of resources on how to recruit major donors for your nonprofit. They offer information on how to find donors, build relationships and secure donations.
Fundraising Coach has perspectives from fundraising experts from different fields and organizations that share their personal experiences on how to recruit new donors. The website also offers fundraising strategies to increase your donor base quickly, such as getting 100 new donors in 90 days.
- What connected you to us?
- What made you decide to become a donor?
- How can we encourage other people to give to our cause?
- How can we make you feel more special and appreciated?
- What things would make people feel more special and appreciated?
NP Engage is a great resource for nonprofit organizations looking to boost their donor base. The website offers articles on increasing new donors, online fundraising and donor retention.
The Fundraising Authority shares a step-by-step process that can help a nonprofit find new donors, as well as resources on how to maximize donor relationships, and get recurring donations. The website also offers printable guides to a variety of beneficial information like donor retention and event planning.
If your nonprofit is growing by leaps and bounds, you may seek to start an affiliate organization in another community of need in your home state, or in another state altogether. Here are some resources on how to accomplish that.
Nonprofit Hub offers seven tips to help your organization encourage new donors to contribute to your cause. They also offer infographics and sample scripts for conversations to have with prospective donors.
True to their name, Double the Donation has a variety of resources to help nonprofits get the donations they need to accomplish their goals. They offer infographics and lists of donation opportunities, from companies that are likely to donate to a nonprofit to matching gift programs.
Some donors want to take a hands-on approach to working with a nonprofit organization beyond just writing a check. With a donor-advised fund, donors are able to:
- Make a charitable contribution
- Receive a tax benefit right away
- Offer ideas about how to utilize the money in the fund.
Here are the resources on donor-advised funds.
Donor Perfect, a nonprofit fundraising software company, offers a page on their website of nine must-know facts to help a nonprofit decide if donor advised funds are right for their organization. They share a basic explanation of how donor advised funds work, as well as charts on how donor advised funds have increased over time.
The Internal Revenue Service has a page of resources that outlines the legal aspects of a donor advised fund. They also have information on the requirements for donor advised funds, which have been in place since 2006.
If you are looking for a great overview on donor advised funds, this is the place to find it. Nonprofit Law Blog offers a basic definition, projected growth for donor advised funds, as well as information on restrictions and tax information.
The website also has a lengthy list of resources to find other information about donor advised funds, from troubleshooting to regulations and an analysis of how and why donor advised funds work.
The Council on Foundations has journal articles, studies and a U.S. Congressional report analyzing donor advised funds. For an in-depth look at these funds, the Council has a variety of resources and information.
DAF Direct has a page of frequently asked questions about donor advised funds, including an overview and information on the benefits of this type of funds as a part of your overall fundraising strategy.
Social Entrepreneur Resources
Through research, it’s possible that you've identified yourself as a social entrepreneur: someone who uses their passion to help a nonprofit or company; or to create one of their own. Below you will find some resources on social entrepreneurship.
Vanderbilt University’s Sociology Department has an overview of the relationship between social entrepreneurship and nonprofit organizations. They offer examples of what a social entrepreneur is and what skills a person may need to become a social entrepreneur.
VelvetJobs Expert Tip
Collaborate don't duplicate.
It's inevitable that in some areas and industries there will be organizations that have successfully set up and are running fantastic nonprofits for their community.
Instead of trying to directly compete, ask yourself:
How can I compliment their activities with my my own nonprofit?
Also consider sharing resources, by sharing resources costs can be saved.
The Schwab Foundation shares information about social entrepreneurship, including a definition and common traits that make a good social entrepreneur. The website also offers examples of social entrepreneurship organizational models.
Inc.com has a page of articles about social entrepreneurship, including challenges, advantages, and examples of organizations that work on a social entrepreneurship model, such as Charity: Water.
Nonprofit Quarterly has several articles about social entrepreneurship to help a nonprofit see the benefits of social entrepreneurship as well as steps to take to make the choice to become a social entrepreneur.
Peer-to-peer fundraising is a unique form of fundraising in which an organization uses those who support their cause to fundraise on their organization’s behalf. It is also known as social, personal, or team fundraising. Here are some resources on how to make it work for you.
Salsalabs offers peer-to-peer fundraising software equipping your supporters with online donation pages, mobile, social and email fundraising tools to help them communicate with network for donations.
If you're looking to raise more money and acquire more donors then this peer-to-peer platform will help you. Easily define the parameters of your campaign, recruit volunteers, set up your campaign page, prepare your fundraisers, keep track and host your thank you event.
Cause Vox has an online primer to help nonprofits learn about peer-to-peer fundraising and how the model may best be used at their organization. The guide offers examples, benefits, different types and steps to creating a successful campaign.
Nonprofit Pro offers 12 ideas to help nonprofits make the most of their peer-to-peer campaign, including information on donor psychology and responsive marketing.
A great way to reach a wide audience and to give your new organization exposure is to join a professional nonprofit association. Consider these resources.
The Society for Nonprofits has a variety of resources for nonprofit organizations. On their website, you will find free resources and guides, job listings, webinars and much more.
The National Council on Nonprofits offers information on local and national nonprofits, nonprofit trends and policy issues, and tools and resources on starting a nonprofit and making it a successful organization.
The Association of Fundraising Professionals has several annual conferences. They host a yearly International Fundraising Conference as well as a yearly Leadership Academy, which is a three-day event that focuses on management and leadership development skills.
It's common for smaller nonprofits to have "founder syndrome". This includes the founder of the organization making mistakes such as:
- Inability to delegate tasks to staff members
- Ignoring the mission statement and instead leading the organization via the personality of the founder
Instead, connect with your board, staff, donors, your community and other nonprofit organizations.
- Ask, is your mission statement on track?
- Keep learning from others, especially other nonprofit associations
The Young Nonprofit Professionals Network connects young nonprofit professionals in your area with each other to discuss their organizations, their challenges and successes and ask questions in a format with like-minded individuals. They hold events in 42 cities across the country and have over 50,000 members.
The Association of Fundraising Professionals has a long list of resources on their website. Everything from job listings to educational development to ethics information can be found here.
One of the most important parts of keeping your nonprofit up to date with the latest in software, donor programs and everything else that makes a nonprofit run smoothly is to attend annual nonprofit career events.
Here are couple that may interest you.
INBOUND is a conference that works with marketing and sales professionals to help people increase their business, including nonprofit organizations. Through education, networking and and well-known keynote speakers, such as Serena Williams and Arianna Huffington, the conference helps you ignite your passion and is listed on many “can’t miss conference” lists.
The Nonprofit Storytelling Conference is a unique conference event. The Nonprofit Storytelling Conference teaches nonprofit leaders how to focus on different types of storytelling, including digital storytelling, major donor storytelling, visual storytelling and special event storytelling. These teachings focus on donor’s emotions, connect the donor with your message and increase donations.