5 reasons to start working at a not for profit right now (and where to look)

Let’s do some quick calculations. In the UK, a typical working year looks like this:

  • 365 (and a quarter but let’s not be difficult) days
  • 104 weekend days
  • 20 holiday days (more if you’re lucky)
  • 8 public holidays
  • 4 (ish) sick days a year (UK average)

= 229 days spent working per year

That’s a LOT of time. As you’re reading this, that means that’s almost ⅔ of your days this year are likely going to be spent working. You better make sure that’s time spent doing something you want to do. So what are you going to do about it?

One of the most rewarding things you can do with that time is put your efforts into working for a cause you really believe in. It’s meaningful, important and there’s a lot of science behind why you should do it.

However, if you’re in the corporate world and just starting to think about getting out then it can be a bit difficult to try and find a route into a not for profit, charity or other mission driven org. It’s a whole new sector to learn and it can feel a bit intimidating if this is your first time around or you feel like you don’t have enough ‘do gooder’ credentials built up to compete.

Your skills are needed though and as long as you can demonstrate that you really care about what you want to do, then anywhere worth working at should be assessing you on what you can and will do not what you’ve done to date.

So If you’d rather put your time, energy, creativity and focus into something that gets you fired up then you really need to think about making the move over to a not for profit right now. And if you’re still on the fence, here are 5 reasons why you should jump off with both feet into a career that’s about more than just your bank balance.

  1. Mission is what motivates

There are countless studies (and interesting talks like this and this and this) showing that what really makes us happy in our work is a sense of mission, a purpose beyond profit.

2. It doesn’t mean taking a vow of poverty

…and you don’t have to totally give up on your material comforts. We’re working for a world where things are fair — so you can probably forget about owning the yacht — but that doesn’t mean you can’t get paid well for your skills and experience.

3. It’s challenging

You’ll be working on some of the world’s biggest problems that directly affect people and the planet. You can push the boundaries and innovate, it’s a great space to creatively solve problems.

4. It sounds pretty awesome

Working on a project to protect rainforests/end tax havens/raise money for rescue boats in the Mediterranean is guaranteed to generate more positive interest at that dinner party/school reunion/first date than a long winded explanation of how you’re helping optimise banner adverts for e-business solutions. It just is.

5) You will make a difference

You will be spending your time making a genuine difference. It won’t be about creating shareholder value or increasing revenue for someone else, you’ll be working to change lives and when you have to get out of bed in the morning and get ready for another one of your 229 days of work per year, that’s an amazing thing to know.


Finding work at not for profits

If you’re interested in a career that’s focused on changing the world, then a few of the best places to look for opportunities at NGOs or charities are: The Guardian Jobs, Charity Job, TBD, ECF, and the Mob Lab Dispatch email.

When you find something you really like, make sure you communicate the value your experience in the for profit world will add to your new team and how motivated you are by the mission. Remember it doesn’t have to be about how long you’ve been involved in a cause but how much you want to make an impact in the future.


A career with meaning at DEV

And if you’ve got a passion for technology and want to work with the world’s leading NGOs and charities across environmental, human rights, and humanitarian issues then we would love to hear from you. Find out a bit more about our team and our hiring process here.

And if you have any specific questions, just reach out directly to me on Twitter and I’ll do what I can to help.


John Dunford is the Campaigns Lead at The Developer Society, a not-for-profit digital agency, working with NGOs and groups with a progressive mission to help make the world we live in a better place.

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