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What is Nonprofit Management?

We’ve all seen the movie where the bad guy says, “It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.” The same cannot be said for the business professional interested in working for a nonprofit organization. By definition, a nonprofit is “a group organized for purposes other than generating profit and in which no part of the organization’s income is distributed to its members, directors, or officers. Non-profit corporations are often termed “non-stock corporations.” … Non-profit organizations include churches, public schools, public charities, public clinics and hospitals, political organizations, legal aid societies, volunteer services organizations, labor unions, professional associations, research institutes, museums, and some governmental agencies.” Let’s briefly compare the differences between for-profit and nonprofit organizations.

For-Profit Organizations vs Nonprofit Organizations

The greatest difference between a nonprofit organization and its for-profit counterpart is found in the bottom line. A for-profit corporation’s success rises and falls on its ability to stay financially viable, and that can often mean, by any means necessary. While a non-profit corporation may be “in business” to offer a service or product to the consumer, it is also the organization’s explicit purpose to serve the common good in some way. This could include a clothing manufacturer that employs indigenous workers or a ministry in an urban setting which provides meals for shut-ins.

The world of nonprofits continues to grow. From the Internal Revenue Service’s perspective, there are “29 different classifications of nonprofits that are exempt from some federal taxes. These different categories include civic leagues and social welfare organizations (501(c)(4)), chamber of commerce and business leagues (501(c)(6)), and organizations of past and present members of the U.S. Armed Forces (501(c)(19)). The most common type of nonprofit is section 501(c)(3), with more than two out of every three nonprofits falling into this category.”

Pursuing a degree in Nonprofit Management

With the rise of nonprofit organizations all over the world, there is a high demand for quality leadership at the management level. There is no greater way to learn about the intricacies of nonprofit management than to pursue a degree in this field. The entry level of education in nonprofits is to pursue an associate or bachelor’s degree in nonprofit management. The next step would be to attain a Master’s in Nonprofit Management, including degrees such as Master’s of Arts, Master’s of Public Administration, or a Master’s of Business Administration with an emphasis in Nonprofit Management. While these three programs do contain some specific distinctions between each other, they are all designed to prepare managers for nonprofit leadership roles.

Careers in Nonprofit Management

While there are many different options for nonprofit education, there are even more careers options in nonprofit management. Some professionals work within organizations which serve their members like union groups and political parties, while some have been established to serve the public at large like churches and social welfare groups. These jobs can be found in the world of healthcare, arts and culture, manufacturing, and retail. Many nonprofit organizations maintain a similar structure to their for-profit counterparts which mean they are in need of program directors, marketing directors, human resource representatives, fundraising directors, and even executive directors.

Many business professionals have found life-affirming, and lucrative, careers in nonprofit management. Gaining an understanding of how nonprofits work and then pursuing a degree in nonprofit management are two great steps to take in a fruitful career in the world of nonprofits.

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