Going From Nonprofit To For Profit

Two people standing over a sidewalk that reads "passion led us here" | Photograph by Ian Schneider on Unsplash


After spfinishing nearly a decade functioning in the nonprofit sector, at the finish of 2019, I determined it was time to leave. I had actually bounced from one organization to the next (4 in total), each time informing myself “This is the one that’ll stick!” They never before did.

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Let me preface my story by saying not everyone has actually the very same experience as me. Plenty of world uncover fulfillment functioning in the nonprofit sector. These reflections are for those that are looking to acquire out of the nonprofit people however battle to reconcile with those feelings.

No company—whether they are for-profit or not—is perfect. However before, the adhering to are 4 common concerns you’ll check out at a lot of nonprofits:

It’s hard to make a distinction if you can’t make aliving.Nonprofits are in a difficult spot. Their objectives revolve around serving others, not making money. Since their mission is to sell totally free or low-price solutions, they can’t rise prices to make a profit. Not just that, but they are at the mercy of funders and their needs. The Atlantic put out an amazing write-up in 2015 around a pattern they deemed “The Nonprofit Famine Cycle.”

“The cycle starts through funders’ unrealistic expectations about the prices of running a nonprofit. In response, nonrevenues attempt to spend less on overhead <…> to attempt and also fulfill those unrealistic expectations. That response then reinpressures the unrealistic expectations that started thecycle.”

— Jonathan Timm, TheAtlantic

Ask anyone that works at a nonprofit and also they’ll tell you they aren’t in it for the money. But unfortunately, money is essential in today’s people. There’s rent, utilities, healthcare, groceries—and millennials favor me have actually the included bonus of mounting student loan debt.


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Source:giphy.com


I lived paycheck-to-paycheck in the time of my time working in nonrevenues. I was barely able to pay my bills. Eventually, I had to relocate in via my partner bereason my rent enhanced to a point where I couldn’t afford it anyeven more. I was 33 years old with a checking account with fees bereason I couldn’t maintain the account minimum, and no savings. I felt prefer my partner had actually to carry the mass of our financial burdens, which made me feel worse. I was stressed all the time, never feeling choose I might catch up, despite functioning a permanent task.

Madeline Fex, who operated for several years as the Director of Marketing and also Communications at a private institution sums it up nicely:

“Many human being sign up with the nonprofit civilization bereason they truly desire to make a difference. But one thing I uncovered is that you can’t take care of yourself if you aren’t being taken treatment of. After leaving and having actually those requirements met, I find I have actually the mental space and time to dedicate to causes I treatment around, external of work.“

— Madeline Fex, Former Director of Marketing and also Communications, Chicback WaldorfSchool

There are benefits to having actually excellent benefits.For many type of nonprofits, the advantage is that you’re obtaining passist. Many kind of locations can’t afford to provide their employees wellness insurance or PTO, let alone a retirement setup. Employees wind up having actually to pay for their very own office supplies or gas for job-related travel, through no reimbursement. Tright here were many type of times I went to work sick bereason I didn’t have sufficient PTO. Major fundraiser coming up? There went my weekfinish, via only the hope of probably coming in a small late on Monday to make up for it.

Bobby Dixon, who works at WunderLand also Group as the Client Engagement Manager, appreciates the adaptability of his company’s benefits, which includes remote work-related and the ultimate perk—snacks:

“Free snacks and an infinite work-related from residence plan are benefits. Trusting your colleagues are functioning as hard at house as they would certainly in the office is excellent society. Don’t be afrhelp to ask. If they are truly involved about producing the best culture, they will certainly be glad youasked.”

Bobby Dixon, Client Engagement Manager, WunderLand


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Some advantage packperiods are better than others | Gif by GIPHY


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Drive and passion don’t pay the bills | Source: DJC Core Consulting,LLC


Always overworked and alwaysbehind.There’s many push on nonprofits and also, therefore, their employees. It can regularly feel choose nothing is more crucial than the mission: each day feels prefer you’re just prepping for the following fundraiser, appeal, board meeting, volunteer orientation. And you’re doing it all via restricted staff. It was not inexplicable for myself and also various other employees to wind up taking on added functions without a pay boost because it was cheaper to spread work-related out among current staff, than to hire even more civilization. A 2013 study from The Urban Institute reported that the majority of nonprofits chose to reduced salaries and also benefits prior to slowing their operations. This leads to burnout, high employee turnover prices, and a constant feeling of constantly being behind.


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Do you feel like this at work? You can require a readjust. | Gif byGIPHY


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Dwight knows just how I felt | Source:meganmaygin.tumblr.com


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The Japanese idea ofIkigai


When I initially started, my state of being dropped between the locations marked by “delight and also fullness…” and “excitement and complacency…” Low pay for unsteady, mission-based job-related was fine for me as soon as I was 25. But as I acquired older, I realized that wasn’t enough. I was progressively moving better away from the appropriate balance, or Ikigai, and further out to one extreme: “what the civilization requirements.”

I was so attached to doing somepoint “for the good of others,” that I neglected my own requirements in the procedure and also I discovered myself broke, unfulfilled, and also miserable.

During my duration of joblessness, I took the chance to really think around what I needed from a project, and also what I wanted.

I well-known I required a jobthat:Played to my skillsets and made me feel qualified.Provided an chance for development, both professionally and also personally.Passist a livable wage.Promoted a healthy and balanced work-life balance.I felt great about coming to eexceptionally day.

And bereason a component of me still loved nonprofit job-related, I wanted to occupational for a company who’s mission was not just to make a bunch of money, but to make a difference.

See more: Stanford Nonprofit Management Institute 2014, Spring 2014

If you, too, are considering making the switch from nonprofit work, I recommend thinking around these 3 features once deciding where to go next:

1. Missions aren’t simply for nonprofits.

Just bereason you’ve decided nonrevenues aren’t for you doesn’t intend you have to offer up on finding purpose in youroccupational.


You might not be ready to go complete Corporate America. One of the points that attracted me to Highland is that they carry out most work via mission-based institutions such as Morton Arboretum, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, and Make-A-Wish Illinois.

Highland pays it forward by also giving services at a reduced cost for nonrevenues. Other service providers market methods for their employees to perform volunteer job-related or have corpoprice corresponding gift programs. Working for a profit-pushed agency doesn’t expect you have to weaken your morals. Find a company that shares those very same ideas, and urges that altruistic soul.

2. Size doesmatter.

Do you desire to be a face in the crowd, or somewbelow wbelow everybody knows yourname?


The biggest company I ever before worked for had around 100 employees. I was used to coming to job-related eextremely day and being able to greet everyone by name, understand their backstories, and feel prefer they were more than simply nameless faces. I was concerned about relocating to a big firm wright here staff sizes were thousands of world, most of whom I wouldn’t have the ability to pick out of a line-up.

Seeking out smaller providers can make the change from nonprofit to for-profit a small less complicated. At Highland, tright here are 25 onwebsite employees with another six that work remotely. I had the ability to conveniently learn everyone’s name, their role within the agency, and acquire to know them all as people. This helped me to feel choose a component of the company sooner than if, at three months in, I was still finding out people’s names.

3. Find an environment in which you feel comfortable.

The days of tiny cubicles in gray, fluorescent-lit workplaces are coming to be a thing of the previous. You have the right to work somearea nice.


Many kind of providers now incorpoprice plants, bbest paint colors, and also open-air desks with plenty of accessibility to herbal lighting. At Highland also, workspaces are versatile. Many type of people occupational at convertible standing desks, sit on couches, and also even hang out on the floor. Tright here are also breakout offices once even more privacy and also quiet are necessary. Puzzles and also model-building kits are readily obtainable if you should take a break. The fridge and also kitchen pantry are also stocked via a variety of snacks and bevereras to save employees fueled.

When applying for a job, take note of the company’s office area. At one agency I interviewed at, the workplaces were in the basement level. It felt choose working in…well…a basement. As someone who hates overhead fluorescent lighting, and also pdescribes surround herself through natural light, houseplants, and tiny lamps (I contact it mood lighting) the principle of functioning in that space made my claustrophobia kick right into overdrive.


You don’t must acquire an in-person interwatch to watch the digs, either. Many type of providers have social media platforms such as Facebook and also Instagram. When I used to Highland also Solutions, among the initially things I did was look through photos on their Facebook web page in order to obtain an idea of what the occupational environment was prefer.

Only you know what’s right for you in the longterm

Deciding to leave the nonprofit sector is an very difficult decision to make, specifically if you’ve spent many years trying to make it work. At the finish of the day, you don’t should justify yourself to anyone; if you gave it a shot and felt it just wasn’t for you, that’s fine. Just don’t think that jumping ship and also grabbing that for-profit life raft all of a sudden makes you a corpoprice shill. There’s plenty of in-between, and if you take the moment to reflect and also execute a small legjob-related you will hopecompletely have the ability to uncover something that suits you.