Wanted: Nonprofit Career Advocates

This post appeared on March 31st, 2009 as a part of the Career Corner Advice Series


Our Nonprofit Careers Team has been chatting with a range of people to find out what Idealist can do to help them be advocates for working in this sector. I figure that since you’re here on the site, you get why nonprofit jobs are worth touting – so maybe you’ll be able to help us out.

We’re wondering:

  • How can we help people understand that ‘nonprofit career’ isn’t an oxymoron?
  • What resources do you wish you had to better answer questions about nonprofit careers?
  • In what ways can you be involved in advocating for and helping people to understand the nonprofit sector?
  • What can Idealist do to help you be stronger advocates?
  • What are the best tools and resources you know of to empower advocates?

Maybe you’ve checked out our free Nonprofit Career Guides, maybe you’ve had a chance to peruse our hot-off-the-press Handbook to Building a Better World, and maybe you’ve even visited the new IdealistNews site where folks can stay up to date on the latest nonprofit headlines.

And maybe you’re like me and you’re thinking, “This is a pretty good start… but there is so much more potential!”

You know and I know that the nonprofit sector is so often misunderstood: it is often defined by what it is not (non-profit, non-governmental) or stereotyped as the social worker/soup kitchen sector where folks go to work for a few years after graduating before they decide to get a “real job.” Yet we also know that these generalizations are just a very small part of a very, very big picture. (“Just how big?,” you ask. Check out What exactly is a nonprofit? to learn more.)

In light of these limited views of the sector we so love, we constantly strive to create resources and connections to help people help others understand nonprofits. Whether this means talking to your family, your colleagues, your students, your congregation, your teammates, or even your favorite barista, you need ways to illuminate the range of organizations and opportunities that exist.

Sometimes it just isn’t enough to say, “Nonprofits are a great way to make a difference.” We want to help you articulate why.

So consider this an open call for people to weigh in and answer some questions of those questions above. Leave a comment below. Help us help you help others see the value of having a nonprofit career.

This entry is by Steven Joiner, Director of the Career Transitions Program and author of The Idealist Guide to Nonprofit Careers for Sector Switchers.

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