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Just For Nonprofits: Making The Switch
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Just For Nonprofits: Making The Switch - Executive Leadership Articles

Just For Nonprofits: Making The Switch

Executive Leadership Articles

Just For Nonprofits: Making The Switch

When the time has come for you to move on to your next great career adventure, the possibility of making the switch to executive-level positions at nonprofit organizations may pop into your mind. And why not? Each one of us has his or her pet causes, those social issues that resonate with us for whatever reason. Perhaps a loved one was helped through a difficult illness, or maybe a college alma mater remains near and dear enough that mere check-writing no longer satisfies the way it once did. Whatever the cause, it can probably use the leadership, experience, and vision you've applied in the for-profit sector, but how do you know you whether making the jump is a good move for you?

In an interview with the Chronicle of Philanthropy (http://philanthropy.com/article/A-Recruiter-Gives-Guidance-to/52587/), Laura Gassner Otting, author of Change Your Career: Transitioning to the Nonprofit Sector, advises that a lot of things can inspire someone to consider making the transition, such as major life changes or crises, and that such inspiration can eventually turn out to be a passing fancy. For this reason, she recommends asking yourself what your true motivation is, so that you don’t have second thoughts when things get rough, and to keep asking until you’re sure you have a solid, honest answer.

Writing for the Bridgespan Group (http://www.bridgespan.org/Publications-and-Tools/Transition-Nonprofit/Getting-Started/The-Right-Way-to-Shift-Sectors.aspx), Wayne Luke boils the transition issue down to two major points: “Functional expertise and cultural fit with a target organization are the make-or-breaks in such a transition. Succeed at one but fail at the other, and your move isn't likely to stick.” The functional expertise part of the equation may be the easiest to assess; you know what your skills look like and you know how adaptable you are in applying them to new realms. The cultural fit part of the equation may be tougher to figure out. Working for an educational institution, for example, may fit nicely with your expertise, but if you don’t know how to think like a teacher, you may have difficulty communicating effectively, or you may make counterproductive decisions. Working in an environment with constantly tenuous funding or continuously shifting levels of administration may also be cultural assimilations you’ll want to consider before making the leap.

More specifically, “Make sure you have a deep passion for the work you’ll be doing,” says Jennifer Hee, Executive Director of Development for the Salvation Army’s Hawaii and Pacific Islands division. “You’ll probably be paid less in the nonprofit sector, and the sense of fulfillment that comes with doing work you love goes a long way toward making up that deficit.” She adds that without that passion, you’ll frequently second-guess yourself about making the transition when you’re having one of those killer weeks.

There’s no question that the world needs someone of your experience and expertise, so if you’ve got the makeup for the nonprofit arena, you might consider making the leap if you’re confident about your motivations, if you can find a great cultural fit, and if you can find something that ignites and stokes your passions.


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Just For Nonprofits: Making The Switch - Executive Leadership Articles

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