From For-Profit to Non-Profit: Tips for Executives Seeking Mission-Driven Work

Posted on 08. Sep, 2010 by in Boards Behaving Better, Career, Nonprofit

Are you thinking of crossing-over from the for-profit to non-profit sector? Here are two important tips to help you get interviews for the right roles — tips that will enable you to find the right fit for your talents and temperament.

  1. Demonstrate your experience in financial management, personnel administration, budgeting, team leadership and fundraising; these are necessary executive abilities for running a non-profit organization. Since chief executives report to their boards, experience serving on a non-profit board is critical to understanding how to manage the moving parts.
  2. Prepare a one-page networking profile. In switching sectors, highlight the competencies that describe the transferable assets that you bring:
    1. Adaptive skills: capabilities that involve your behavior in the workplace, personality characteristics, and ways of doing things. These determine how you “fit” in certain organizational settings.
    2. Functional skills: strategic thinking, teamwork, problem-solving, preparing budgets, evaluating programs, relationship-building, interpreting information, and mediating disagreements.

If you are looking for mission-driven work, you should not be misguided into thinking that leading or managing in a non-profit is a simple task. Non-profits tend to have a slower decision-making process due to the many stakeholders involved. Non-profits are not less demanding, but face their own set of stresses. Be aware that leaders of non-profits function as chief fundraiser, marketer, salesperson, and financial expert.

Be cognizant about your passion for the mission and your ability to motivate and mentor professional and volunteer staff. Understanding all aspects before considering a move to a leadership position with a non-profit organization will enable you to successfully navigate the cross-over.

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