(Closed) Bees who volunteer/work at non-profits..

posted 6 years ago in Career
Post # 3
843 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2011

Actually, I work in advertising AND non-profits.  I do digital marketing for non-profits.  I work at an agency but all of are clients are 501c3 agencies.  The majority of what I do is marketing online (you know, Google ads) to get donations for the charities.  You may not get the hands-on gushy feeling of helping someone directly but I love working every day knowing that my hard work is getting donations to these charities.  I raised over $1M for my clients in December.  Knowing that money is going to help empower women, fight diabetes, protect animals, etc. makes it worth it for me.

I understand wanting to do the work directly and if you think you can swing it working as a waitress and volunteering to get the experience, I say go for it.  When I was young my mom worked part-time (while I was in school all day) and she always started out volunteering for non-profits.  Her love is dogs so she worked for orgs that provide service animals to the blind or people with other diabilities.  It got her foot in the door at the org she supported and then after working there for a while would talk to the staff and eventually got herself a job. 

Non-profits pay very little compared to what those in the for-profit world make and half the time you’re doing more work, so be prepared for that.  But if it’s where your heart is and where your passion lies, a higher paycheck can’t make up for happiness.

Post # 4
1695 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2012

I work at a non-profit and I love it.  I don’t make a lot of money considering how much school I had to go through, or considering the amount of debt I’ve accrued in paying for my education, but it is worth it.  (Granted, I receive assistance in paying my student loans based on the type of work that I do).  To some people my choice seems crazy.  But I am genuinely satisfied and fulfilled with my work, which is worth it to me financially.  Also, I’m getting a ton of experience which I may use later if I decide to enter into a more lucrative field. 

Good luck making your decision! 

Post # 5
2233 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

I am not saying any of this discourage you but this is what I have done. Sorry this might be long. 

In September 2008 I started a post-graduate program specific to working with non-profits (mostly geared towards international development). I had already been volunteering at various places on and off and that year I spent every Friday volunteering with an organization. The program was practical and was meant to prepare me for working with non-profits/NGOs, the work we did in school was pulled directly from programs from big organizations (think FreeTheChildren & World Vision)

I graduated in 2009 and while in previous years internships were easy to come by (a requirement of my program) because of the recession it was almost impossible. I did find and internship as well as various volunteer positions with large non-profits. I volunteered and worked my butt off for free until February 2011 when I decided that I had enough. I had applied to hundreds of jobs and spent countless hours working and networking. The only thing non-profits were interested in is free labour. 

When I was making my decision to go back to school (because like you I had a job that I hated) all I got was sugar coated answers about how amazing and fulfilling this works can be. I really wish that any one of those people I talked to had been a bit more honest about all the difficulties. 

There were around 80 people in my program and I would say that while some are working in the field many are still struggling to find work. Some of these people already had years of experience working with non-profits and managed to get nowhere or all they get offered is shit paying high risk positions. I question my decision to give up on this path occasionaly but then I see the comments from some of my friends about how much they hate the industry and I stop doubting. 

I will say that I have a friend (not from my program) who is a marketing manager for a non-profit and she makes great money but her hours are horrendous. 

With all of that said, if going back to waitressing will actually make you more money and then you can volunteer on the side then I would give it a try.

Post # 7
556 posts
Busy bee

i actually think a biz background is great for a nonprofit–especially if you’re interested in fundraising work for nonprofits. this you could do tomorrow….

but it sounded like you wanted to do more hands on work w/actual clients:

look at residential group homes, they always need ppl to work on saturdays, sundays, and at night or to do pickups when someone is sick last minute or wants to go on vacation. it’s pretty flexible work! not the best paying but it would give you experience.

i also think your idea to waitress and volunteer sounds good. before you do this–id make a list of the places you want to volunteer with and make sure theyre accepting volunteers. some places have background checks and other requirements because you’d be working directly w/clients and they want to keep it safe. you may also find because of the job market they have a lot of interns already and no space for volunteers…so id make a list of a couple places to check out first.

some nonprofits–especially the small ones you could directly email a program manager and create your own program. homeless shelters, vocational programs….well pretty much any program need their clients to know budgeting and money and math. you could offer to do a class because of your biz background. then if that works offer a class on resumes and how to “market” yourself to employers.

youth mentoring programs always need volunteers too.

good luck!


Post # 8
1365 posts
Bumble bee

I work for a very big cancer charity and it is brilliant. But my conscience physically wouldn’t let me work for a company I didn’t share values with. Are there not jobs you can apply for in the charity sector using the experience you already have? I work in customer service, and it isn’t what I want to do forever, but it is a brilliant job for me for now and it is a great start to a career in the third sector.

Post # 9
879 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

I started with the Fire Service as a Volunteer Fire Fighter nearly 10 years ago.  I did as many things as I could to get more experience, put my hand up for out of area deployment.  Did specialised courses in comms.  While volunteering I worked in Pet retail, then as a Pet Groomer, then after my first child I went to work in a supermarket (sucky hours, little respect, but I was getting paid $26 an hour as a casual!!  $18 when I went part time)

I did as much as I could to give myself experience and an edge.  Then I moved into what is called a customer service role in the state operations centre.  Started as a temp casual, and am now fulltime.  And I still also volunteer on the fireground.

I love it, and I know that I am on the path to bigger and better things with more responsibility.

If changing careers allows you to find your edge and follow a dream.  Go for it.

Post # 11
1110 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

I work at a non-profit as a nurse. They don’t pay well or have great benefits or raises but I do like that it’s not a big evil corporation and we care for marginalized communities of people. I’ve worked with nurses who work part time as waitresses and make more on a good night than they do working as a nurse at a SNF. What community of people are you looking to work with? We see a lot of people working as one to one companions for nursing home residents, taking them for drives and stuff, or you could look into being an activities director somewhere that can’t afford one. That would be sooo appreciated.

Post # 12
1523 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

I’m finishing up my MSW in May and have worked as a social worker in geriatrics for 12 years. Have you tried getting into the management end of non-profit? As a previous poster said, a lot of upper managment in non-profits have MBA’s and the like. I started off with a BA in psych, and decided to go the SW route. Money isn’t great, but you can feel good about what you do, and sleep well at night. I will tell you to follow your heart. I don’t think you’re crazy to want to change your life and try to make a difference. If you can swing it financially, go for it. You only live once!

Post # 15
3240 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2016

I work for a city as an environmental educator, and I love it so much. I don’t think I would ever be totally happy working in a for-profit environment.


It really can be hard to break in, but once you’re in – you usually are pretty okay. I’m not going to lie, anything that doesn’t make its own bottom line is pretty short on funds right now… but the government funded department thing is pretty good.

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