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Arkansas State University

Why Work in Nonprofit?

Whether they are just starting out in the professional world or seeking to advance an existing career, many professionals are considering the benefits of working in the nonprofit sector. Nonprofit management jobs provide fulfillment and valuable work experience, while at the same time offering similar compensation as for-profit management jobs. For many individuals, an online MPA program with a concentration in nonprofit management is the best next step for a career in the nonprofit arena.

Gain Experience, Not Stress

Because the nonprofit sector tends to be less competitive and cutthroat than the business sector, many managers choose to work for nonprofit organizations to find professional fulfillment while reducing stress. Nonprofits tend to hire more managers and higher-level professionals than lower-level workers, making the prospect of finding a job in nonprofit management easier than simply working your way up from the bottom.

A less competitive environment does not mean that nonprofit managers do not face a variety of challenges. Nonprofit managers face many opportunities to develop their skills in leadership, personnel management, resource development and many other areas. Working in nonprofit management is an excellent way to gain invaluable management experience without the stress of the daily corporate rat race.

Salary and Benefits for Nonprofit Managers

Many professionals believe that it pays more to go into the business sector than nonprofit management. It is easy to assume that for-profit businesses, in the pursuit of profit, will pay their leaders more as an incentive. While this is sometimes true, a recent study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that managers in nonprofit organizations receive, in fact, the same compensation as most for-profit managers.

Because nonprofit organizations, including nonprofit hospitals, cannot retain any type of profits, these firms often transfer the returns to their managers and workers through their compensation packages. These compensation packages include salary, health insurance benefits, and employer contributions to retirement and savings plans. All of this means that salary alone is not a sufficient measure of what nonprofit managers can earn. The BLS indicates that working for a nonprofit does not put managers at a financial disadvantage compared to their for-profit counterparts.

Preparing for a Career in Nonprofit

Many people find that volunteering their professional services at nonprofit organizations for a time gives them a deeper understanding of how these organizations function and what a nonprofit career would entail. The courses in an online MPA program offer professionals a solid foundation in public administration topics such as public budgeting and finance, human resources management, administrative leadership and ethics, and grant writing and administration.

Additionally, a nonprofit management concentration gives graduate students chances to learn about topics specific to the nonprofit world, such as nonprofit fundraising, nonprofit marketing, nonprofit planning and financial management. An online MPA program can be an ideal choice for people who have recently earned a bachelor’s degree and have yet to enter the workforce, as well as those who are looking to transition to the nonprofit sector from the corporate world.

Learn more about Arkansas State University’s Master of Public Administration (MPA) Non-Profit Management track.


Idealist Careers: 5 Ways For-Profit Professionals Can Break Into the Nonprofit Sector

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Nonprofit Pay and Benefits: Estimates from the National Compensation Survey

Stanford Social Innovation Review: 11 Reasons Why New College Grads Should Pursue Nonprofit Careers

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