The work of a nonprofit manager is to oversee nonprofit or not-for-profit organizations. These groups focus on funding and managing service programs rather than generating revenue. Nonprofits tend to attract passionate, service-oriented employees who are dedicated to making the world a better place by advancing a specific cause. Nonprofit managers are typically in charge of financial and operational responsibilities for these organizations, and they play a large role in fundraising as well.
A Day in the Life of a Nonprofit Manager
A nonprofit’s mission is tied to its day-to-day operations. Depending on the organization’s size, budget, location, and other factors, the daily schedules of nonprofit managers may vary.
A nonprofit manager’s job is to ensure that the organization is meeting its responsibilities. Whether the goal is providing community support services, helping the environment, or giving religious instruction, the manager has to find a way to analyze the organization’s impact. Nonprofit management involves constant restructuring and modification of standard practices and staying up to date on the views of people working for, supporting, and being served by the organization. The nonprofit manager handles everything from structuring board meetings to creating a strategic plan for fundraising and securing adequate media exposure.
Management is responsible for all aspects of an organization as well as ensuring that activities are being properly funded. Nonprofit managers are also obligated to deliver the best results possible and have the support staff necessary to ensure success. Certain managers will actively assist with programming on a regular basis, while others will limit their direct involvement to special events. They also spend a large portion of their days focused on money management.
Not only do nonprofit managers often work on public fundraising events, they are generally the main contact for other types of donations, such as planned and major gifts and corporate sponsorships. They invest a significant amount of time in negotiating terms that make these gifts possible without taking away from their organization’s purpose. Because of this close involvement, travel is often a major component of a nonprofit manager’s schedule.
Because responsibilities vary widely, compensation for nonprofit managers spans a wide range as well. Fortunately, there are easy ways of predicting on which end of the spectrum the salary and benefits for a particular position will fall. The location of an organization, the responsibilities of the nonprofit manager, the operating budget, and the number of employees in an organization all play important roles in determining salary.
For instance, managers of nonprofit organizations with 500 to 999 employees tend to make an average of three times the salary of managers with five or fewer subordinates. Managers of organizations with budgets topping $10 million are likely to get twice the pay of those who manage a budget less than $10 million. Also, nonprofits in metropolitan areas tend to pay higher salaries than those in rural areas.
According to PayScale.com, the majority of first-year nonprofit managers make an average of $41,356 per year. The majority of nonprofit managers with five to six years of experience make around $64,000. CEOs of the biggest nonprofit organizations can make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Education and health-based nonprofits that operate in conjunction with the government tend to pay the most. Most employers offer a standard benefits package.
Nonprofit managers often have a bachelor’s degree as well as an advanced degree, including a master’s in nonprofit management. Earning a master’s degree can equip professionals with the skills needed to progress into managerial roles. Forty-nine percent of nonprofit managers have a graduate degree. Because of its emphasis on public service values, a Master of Public Administration (MPA) can be particularly beneficial for professionals who want to advance their careers within nonprofits. An MPA program teaches the leadership skills necessary to effectively manage teams of people, create and evaluate budgets, analyze data, and communicate effectively. Just as an MBA can position working professionals to step into executive positions in the business world, an MPA can help employees take on management roles at nonprofits and government agencies.
Challenges and Opportunities
Nonprofit managers have substantial responsibilities. Their schedules are busy, and every day is dedicated to fundraising and budgeting. In order to be successful, nonprofit managers need effective communication skills to build rapport with donors and manage staff. As with other high-level executive positions, nonprofit management presents time-management challenges, and managers must learn to prioritize and balance competing demands.
The four most recommended skill areas for nonprofit managers are leadership, communication, team building, and creating collaboration between teams and team members.
The nonprofit sector has experienced tremendous growth in the last ten years, more than twice that of government positions. Non-governmental organizations now represent 10 percent of jobs in the United States. Nonprofit managers will continue to find opportunities for employment as the field expands. For this reason, it’s imperative for people who are considering a career in management or a change within the field to focus on developing transferable skills and leadership experience.
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