Nonprofit Organizations (also known as NGOs – non-governmental organizations) can be found in all 50 states and throughout the world. While their organization and structure may vary, one thing they have in common is that all are driven by a mission, for example: social justice, environmental protection, healthcare, or international development. They do not seek to make a profit from the work that they do (like the private sector), nor do they receive most of their funding from taxpayers (like the government), instead they fundraise and write grants to obtain the funding that allows them to fulfil their various missions. While working at a nonprofit may never make you a millionaire, you absolutely can “make a living by making a difference!
For L&S students who did not study education during undergrad, but may have decided that they really would like to teach one day, there are a multitude of options. You can earn a Master of Arts in Teaching, earn a teaching license through an alternative certification program like Teach for America, or even get your ESL and teach English abroad. There are many possibilities and it’s never too late to take your first step into the classroom. Look below for some steps to help you get started. Note: If you are interested more in Education Policy, please visit our Government, Politics, and Policy Career Community.
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Heather Robertson-Devine ’99 received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison with majors in International Relations and Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies. Ms. Robertson-Devine is currently a part-time teacher and entrepreneur. As CEO of Books del Sur, Ms. Robertson-Devine’s company imports high-quality, authentic, children’s’ literature from Latin America. In this video, she shares information about her background as an educator, how she found her way to international publishing, and how she defined her personal brand.
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Over one-third of nonprofits believe the following five areas will experience the most job growth in the coming year: fundraising/development; direct services; education/community outreach; program management/support; and marketing/communications/public relations20016 NEP Survey
Featured L&S Courses
Exploring Service in Science introduces first-year science students to the world of public service from the perspective of both the university and its community partners, using classroom activities and direct experiences. Service opportunities include science outreach, sustainability, and public health. Upon completion of the course, students will be prepared to access the network of service providers in the region to pursue more in-depth volunteer or community-based learning opportunities. Involves approximately 1 hour per week of public service.
The internship program is designed to provide students with opportunities for learning and working in organizations in ways that connect their coursework in gender and women’s studies to specific issues in community settings.
GWS 660: Internship in Gender and Women’s Studies is a course open to graduating Gender and Women’s Studies major and certificate students through an application and interview process.
UW-Madison and the community have a variety of student and professional organizations to consider joining. Check out a few on our list
Badger career coaches are here to help you with your resume, expand your network, provide helpful advice.
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Nonprofit Resume Sample
Job Description Sample 1
Job Description Sample 2
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Definition and Additional resources for Nonprofits
The nonprofit sector is comprised of organizations working towards bettering or addressing a certain issue and/or need as defined by each organization’s mission statement. The Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University has conducted research on nonprofits and developed the following list of characteristics for nonprofit organizations:
• Institutionalized to some extent;
• Institutionally separate from government;
• Non-profit-distributing (not returning profits generated to their owners or directors);
• Self-governing (able to control their own activities); and
• Voluntary (non-compulsory and involving some meaningful degree of voluntary participation)
• Not all nonprofits are charities.
Types of nonprofits
In the United States, as recognized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) there are three main types of nonprofit organizations (note: there are 29 types of organizations that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c). Each type of organization is exempt from certain taxes because of the contributions it makes to the community.
- 501(c)(3) – The majority of nonprofits are in this category. They must show broad public support. Donations are tax-deductible; Common examples include private foundations and charitable nonprofits. Research them on sites such as Charity Navigator and GuideStar
- 501(c)(4) – They perform advocacy/lobbying work, ostensibly designed to promote social welfare causes (e.g., AARP). These groups are allowed to to participate in politics, so long as politics do not become their primary focus; meaning they must spend less than 50 percent of their money on politics. Donations to these orgs is not tax-deductible
- 501(c)(6) – This includes professional and trade associations, chambers of commerce, trade boards, real estate boards, and even NFL teams (so long as they don’t generate a profit for their members). Donations to these groups is not tax-deductible.
Understanding Nonprofit Job Titles
Common corporate or
government job titles
Accountant Advocate Administrative Assistant Board Administrator CEO Community Manager Event planner Community Organizer Manager Development/Fundraising Marketing/Communications Grant Writer President Outreach Coordinator Programmer/web developer Program Coordinator Researcher Program Director Teacher Volunteer Manager
Working Internationally for Nonprofits
Maybe you have dreams of working overseas for a nonprofit, or non-governmental organization (NGO). Unless you are able to volunteer right after graduating, finding actual paid employment with these types of organizations is difficult – unless you’ve planned ahead and/or have friends or relatives who can give you a helping hand. Resources available to you at UW-Madison, while you are still a student:
- Explore and plan a semester abroad to gain new international perspectives through the UW-Madison International Division’s study abroad, or international internship programs
- Explore Wisconsin Idea Fellowships which provide funding to undergraduate student projects working towards solving a challenge identified along with local or global community partner
- Make an appointment to meet with our Campus Peace Corps Representative to learn how service in the Peace Corps can boost your future career goals
- International organizations seek candidates that have proficiency in languages other than English. Explore your options and learn about ways to develop your language skills at Languages at UW-Madison
- Investigate if you can volunteer within a Wisconsin-based organization that supports projects in the developing world
- Join a student org focused on international development issues such as WUD Global Connections
- Apply to the State Department’s Virtual Student Foreign Service program which allows you to intern all over the world without ever leaving Madison
- Read this blog post entitled: To the graduate who wants to work in international affairs
L&S Career Services handouts:
- Devex, an international development website, there are some key areas that individuals should focus on to make/keep themselves relevant for international development work
- United Nations Volunteers
- United Nations Career Portal
- The United Nations Young Professionals Programme
- NATO Internship Programme
- World Wide Helpers
- Volunteer Service Overseas
- Jobs at the World Bank
- DevNet Jobs
- Aid Workers
- What’s the Best Way to Break Into the Non-Profit Sector (from Idealist)
Getting Experience Through Volunteering and Internships
UNDERSTANDING THE NONPROFIT SECTOR
Download this free book: The Idealist Guide to Nonprofit Careers for First-Time Job Seekers
Also read: How to Turn a Volunteer Gig Into A Job
When should you start looking for internships or volunteer experiences?
The nonprofit sector, much like government, doesn’t have a “hiring season.” Much of the hiring in nonprofits takes place ad hoc (as needed). One of the first things you should do is to connect with the Morgridge Center on campus. They have a lot of knowledge about local nonprofits and a great database.
Start the search for organizations you might like to intern with anywhere from 6-8 months before you hope to intern. This will give you time to network with alums through LinkedIn or Badger Bridge. It will also give you enough time to narrow down your interests and discern which skills you’d like to build through the internship. Most will probably be unpaid, so remember to seek out scholarships that may help you fund your internship.
Try to build time into your schedule to find internship opportunities
Get Professional Guidance – Take Inter LS 260, a one-credit, on-line course offered to all students regardless of major or year in school each Fall, Spring, and Summer
There are plenty of places to volunteer in the Madison community
- Visit the Morgridge Center for Public Service located in the Red Gym for assistance with figuring out the best opportunities and how to get involved
- Sign up for Morgridge Mail to get weekly updates from the Center
- To search on your own for local Madison opportunities with all kinds of nonprofits try Volunteeryourtime.org
- Check out the many partner organizations at Community Shares
- Strongly consider committing to being a Badger Volunteer for the semester
Meet local employers at the Public Service Fair (held fall and spring semesters)
The general rule of thumb would be to make formal applications about 30-90 days before you hope to start work, but your networking should start much, much sooner. As above, start networking 6 months to several years before you hope to start. The nonprofit world – especially at the entry level – lives on personal recommendations. And you need to be known to be recommended. In addition to LinkedIn and Badger Bridge, also consider joining YNPN and/or AFP (see the networking tab) to begin getting connected to nonprofit work in the Madison area and beyond.
Idealist is the closest thing you’ll find to a nonprofit careers homepage. This is THE place to find and learn about specific nonprofit organizations that focus on issues you care about, read blogs about the nonprofit sector, find internship and job postings nation- and worldwide, and so much more
- Search for nonprofit organizations that do the things you’re passionate about
- Get guidance and advice about your path from the Idealist Career Center
Community Shares of Wisconsin – A wide range of local orgs, many near campus, with great opportunities to gain skills in advocacy, direct service, grant writing, and more
Student Conservation Association – The SCA is a fantastic organization that motivates and deploys thousands of young people who care passionately about improving the natural world. They intern in national parks and public lands and urban green spaces to make improvements and learn conservation and sustainability practices. They learn how to plan, enact, and lead, all while making a tangible impact in conservation
Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) – The CNCS is a federal entity that helps more than 5 million Americans improve the lives of their fellow citizens through service and sponsors the following programs (among many others)
- AmeriCorps – Vista, State/National, and NCCC Programs
- Teach for America
- City Year
- National Health Corps
- Community Health Corps
- Public Allies
- College Possible
Teaching Fellows – Similar to Teach for America but not affiliated with CNCS, this program focuses on some of America’s toughest cities/states
NPO.net – Non profit job and internship listings esp for northern IL and southern WI
Public Service Careers – Source for jobs in nonprofits and the public sector
Bridgespan – This site is dedicated to advancing your career and involvement in the nonprofit sector
UW-MADISON CAMPUS RESOURCES
GoinGlobal – Access through your BuckyNet account