Why the nonprofit sector is intriguing to a business student

In my last post, I brought up a point at the very end and said that I would speak on it the next time. Well that time has come, and so I bring you: What brought me here, why I am attracted to the nonprofit sector.

As someone with a Marketing degree working on an environmental scan for a non-profit organization, it is clear how many similarities exist between working at a for-profit and at a non-profit. In some respects, it’s the same exact thing. The marketing department has to consistently work on branding and catering messages to target audiences, diligently watching social media sites and other public forum vehicles to make sure that word-of-mouth advertising is positive and accurate. The finance team has to watch the budget and ensure that the marketing and development creatives are setting reasonable goals. Operations and quality assurance managers make sure that all of the small pieces of the organization are functioning according to standard and work to repair any broken cogs in the processes. Everyone is constantly in and out of meetings, numbers have to add up, and deadlines are very real. This fellowship has allowed me to apply the concepts that I learned in my business management classes more fully than I ever did in internships at for-profit organizations. In fact, one of Alvis House’s greatest strengths is its business orientation and focus on outcomes.

The difference between them, then, and what attracts me to non-profit work, is where your hard work goes and who it benefits. Being able to meet and interact with the people that are profiting from my forty hours each week makes my work feel more real, tangible, and direct. While many for-profit organizations do great things for society, I’ve always been sort of demotivated by the obscure, faceless corporate entity that seemed to be the direct beneficiary of my efforts. After a hard day, I would think, “But what was all of that really for?”, and not being able to come up with an answer would sometimes leave me apathetic towards work. Don’t get me wrong—I am not suggesting that working at a for-profit is pointless or unimportant. Quite the contrary, actually, as our society would fall apart if nobody was churning out profit and providing necessary products and services. But for me personally, the apparentness and directness of the relationship between effort exerted and societal benefit gives me a much stronger drive to keep chugging along. And I am very grateful to this fellowship experience for helping me to make this discovery!

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