Julie is an Ivy League MBA graduate.
While working at a mid-level position in a well-known investment bank, she received a fellowship to work in K-12 education to increase innovation. Julie is bored with investment banking and intrigued by a possible career transition to nonprofit work to develop new approaches to education. But she wonders if she could actually make a decent living pursuing her interests.
Julie is like many mid-career business professionals who seek to leverage their experience and credentials and do something more purposeful and meaningful.
But if you are in mid–late career (10-plus years of experience) and are considering a transition, how do you start?
First, recognize where you are in your life — values, work–life balance, marketable skills and experience — and then imagine what you could be doing three years from now that would make you happy.
If the answer is working in the nonprofit world, the North Bay nonprofit sector has many opportunities for professionals considering making a change. If you are interested, the Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership (CVNL) in San Rafael is a good place to begin.
Its resources include free access to these subscription-based resources:
Compensation and Benefits Report: An annual survey of salaries and benefits by job title, size of agency in the nonprofit sector. Get a handle on what the pay is in what you may currently qualify for or what you aspire to become.
For example, Julie may now be a financial professional who might naturally seek a chief financial officer position as a lateral move. However, financial expertise could also be leveraged into capital-funds and major-gifts development, foundation financial officer, and a target as an executive director for an agency, which has a much higher salary range than CFO.
So you can look at lateral transfers as well as adjacent possibilities that you could work towards having the necessary experience and requirements three to five years out.
GuideStar: Its comprehensive database profiles nonprofit agencies by financial health, size of revenues, program service, service impact, board of directors composition, and other attributes.
GuideStar bases its ratings on IRS Form 990, which allows you to glimpse the real fiscal health of organizations. Unless you are a turnaround professional who thrives on failing organizations, you should choose those organizations that rank high on finances, governance, impact, and ability to attract major gifts and grants.
Foundation Directory: This is the motherlode of information to see where the money is flowing and who is receiving it. The foundations already screen for the best agencies in each sector. If organizations are getting multiple grants, you can bet their programs are well-managed and impactful to attract consistent foundation funding.
The directory is organized by recipients, corporate sponsorships and grants to individuals. You can also identify job openings in each of nine databases.
Journal of Philanthropy: A well-respected source for trends and latest techniques in nonprofit management, fund development and impact measurements, this is a go-to publication to become educated about what are the macro trends in the nonprofit sector and where new opportunities may be found.
So Julie has access to free research sources with good, current information for her career search.
However, learning about the categories and salaries for employment, the best agencies, the grant recipients and macro trends in the nonprofit category does not answer more basic, important questions: Why do I want to work in the nonprofit sector? What are my objectives? Are there other paths to fulfill more purposeful work than just the nonprofit sector? If so, how do I find out?