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What are the pros and cons of working for a Nonprofit?

Bridget Community Manager Aug 17, 2020

Hi everyone! 

I was recently asked by a student from my alma mater about the pros and cons of working in tech. I thought it was a really excellent question - we often advertise the highlights of our industry to young people who are interested, but rarely share the downsides! 

So, I'd love to hear from you - what are some of the pros AND cons of working for a nonprofit that you would share with anyone who is considering it for their own career? (What do you wish you'd known before getting into the industry)? 

Can't wait to hear your answers :). Happy Monday!

Bridget

3 comments

Daniel Eads Atlassian Team Aug 19, 2020

I've worked at a couple nonprofits in my career. I was pretty happy with the work and definitely have some thoughts from my own experience!

Pros

  • Sense of accomplishment / contributing to a better world. At the organizations I worked at, it was easy to connect your work to real-world outcomes and improvements in society. Not everyone is fired up about that, but if you are and you find the right organization, it can be very fulfilling.
  • Sometimes easier access to technology. Many tech companies (example, Atlassian) recognize the benefits that nonprofits contribute to society, and provide free or heavily discounted software to give back. This can make "buying" decisions really easy and cut down on the approvals you need to get your work done.
  • Depending on the nonprofit, there's some social prestige and resume-boosting aligned with nonprofit work.
  • You can be freed from connecting decisions with revenue, sometimes making it easier to make the "right" decision because the bottom line is less of a concern
  • Getting to work with other teammates who are there because they believe in the mission of the nonprofit

Cons

  • Generally less base salary at nonprofit jobs. You might see better benefits like healthcare and retirement contributions at a nonprofit, but it can be a hard choice if you're fresh out of school and need to start paying off student loans.
  • Outside of companies that give free software to nonprofits (or steep discounts), it can be hard to get approval or budget for tools
  • You might learn more about writing grants than you cared to know
Like # people like this
Bridget Community Manager Aug 24, 2020

@Daniel Eads , cool! I didn't know that about you :). 

Very interesting perspective. Good point about easier access to technology - I wouldn't have even considered that! Agree 100% that work is more exciting/energizing when you can get behind the mission. 

It's such a shame that salary levels don't reflect the amount of good that non-profit workers are contributing to the world. Same thing with education! 

Thanks again for sharing!

Hey, it's my first job in nonprofit and second ever so I don't have big experience but I think I can say a few words about the pros and cons of working in nonprofit:

PROS

  • great atmosphere and people
  • opportunity to develop, gather new skills at almost every part of management, organization and administration
  • opportunity to meet and work with a lot of great people around the world
  • flexible working hours
  • often great and nice projects - it is also a great way to learn new things

there is one thing which is at the same time pros and cons: it depends on me what my foundation will do, which projects it takes and what opportunity we'll get. It is a huge responsibility but also an awesome feeling when things go well

CONS

  • a lot of foundations and nonprofits work only part-time or even are available a few hours per week so it's hard to contact and be on time with projects and tasks

for me, it's the biggest disadvantage but I have to accept that and live with it

I worked previously for a nonprofit that was a trade association in Silicon Valley, and now I work for a nonprofit meditation community in the midwest. In both cases, one of the biggest challenges is balancing the needs of local communities (chapters) against that of the international organization. I think this is similar in for-profit organizations, too, that are part of an international umbrella organization but represent a specific region or community.

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