Select Page

Post University Blog

If you have a passion for helping others and want to turn that passion into income, then working in philanthropy may be a good fit. Philanthropic organizations have employees, even though they operate in a not-for-profit structure. Those employees keep the nonprofit working well, ensure that the financial records and compliance documents are in place, and protect the interests of those who benefit from the philanthropic organization. If you are interested in putting your passions to work in your career, then consider a career in philanthropy.

Careers in Philanthropic Work

The nonprofit sector has many interesting and engaging career opportunities. When you find work with a charitable organization, you can put your administrative and communications skills to good use helping others and your local community. Whether you are fundraising for a group, using social media to draw attention to an important cause, or helping write grant proposals for a nonprofit organization, there are many career paths available to you within the world of philanthropy.

Philanthropic work typically involves helping people who are in difficult positions. Nonprofit work can expand beyond just helping people and includes helping the environment, society as a whole, and animals. Whether you work directly with people or work in a different type of nonprofit organization, the career options available within nonprofit work will be the same.

Human Resources

Nonprofit organizations have many people that work within them, and those people need human resources teams to help them stay content in their work and passionate about continuing to help others. Working in human resources often means serving as an intermediary between the employees and the leadership. Human resources specialists will also recruit and screen new employees, and they help with the onboarding of new volunteers and employees for the nonprofit. The work is similar to that of human resources professionals in the for-profit sector, but you can combine your passion for philanthropy with your knowledge and skills in the human resources world.

Marketing and Communications

For a nonprofit to thrive and be able to help as many people as possible, it needs income. Income typically comes through grants and donations.  In order to get those donations and bring more stakeholders on board, the nonprofit will need to find ways to share their mission and solicit for funding. Marketing professionals are vital to this work.

As a marketing professional for a nonprofit, the following are some of the specific ways you might use your marketing skills to tell the world what the organization does. You could solicit new donations and followers through social media and other marketing channels. You might do outreach through mailings and event sponsorships.

Public relations communication is a similar part of this work. In communications, you will find yourself speaking with media contacts to provide updates on milestones and events, or crafting persuasive grant proposals. Both marketing and communications are vital to finding success in nonprofit work.


Nonprofit organizations take in and spend money. They have budgets, and they must monitor them carefully to avoid overspending or making too much of a profit which might risk them losing their nonprofit status. Thus, they need financial teams.

Financial teams include many different roles. These may include:

  • Chief financial officer
  • Accountant
  • Finance consultant

A good knowledge of the use of money, budgeting or bookkeeping tools, and basic accounting principles is helpful here. Financial professionals report to the board of directors, and they also ensure that the assets are used to support the organization’s charitable mission.

Administration, Leadership and Development

Even though nonprofit organizations have philanthropic missions, they still require many of the same administration and leadership roles that for-profit companies need to be successful. This means nonprofits need highly driven individuals adept at managing people, resources, and budgets. Leadership, administration and business development skills are essential for working with a variety of stakeholders, from community partners to volunteers.

Nonprofit management and development roles work similarly to the way they work in for-profit businesses. In both philanthropic and business leadership roles within nonprofits, it is essential for administrators to understand the overarching mission of that particular organization so they can execute their duties strategically. These professionals will oversee teams of people to keep them working towards a mutual goal. They will develop campaigns and programs that help move the nonprofit forward toward greater success.

What Skills Do You Need for Philanthropic Work?

Is working in the nonprofit, philanthropic sector right for you? The answer depends on your skillset and passions. There are several skills that can make you more successful in this role. These include:

Interpersonal Skills:

Working in a nonprofit typically means working with people. From donors to recipients of the charity offered, you will need to be able to consistently understand and communicate with the people that make your organization thrive.

Organizational Skills:

Much of the work of a nonprofit involves organization. From organizing financial reports to keeping the supplies and materials you use available at all times, you need to be a highly organized person to work in this field.

Growth Mindset:

In nonprofit work, you will often face challenges along the pathway to meeting your mission. You need to stay aware of those challenges and curious about how you can grow to overcome them. The ability to grow within your career and your own person is important.

Leadership Abilities:

Be able and willing to teach new employees or volunteers, even if they need to be shown multiple times what you are doing. Patience and the ability to both lead and instruct will help you be more successful.


Nonprofit work means working with some of the more disadvantaged members of the population in many instances. You should be able to empathize with those you are serving, even when they make poor decisions.

Critical Thinking:

When you face those challenges in your work, you need to be able to research the problem and come up with a logical solution. This requires critical thinking abilities.

A Positive Attitude:

Working in a nonprofit can be hard. If you are a pessimist, you may find yourself discouraged on a regular basis. Maintaining a positive attitude will help not only you but also the people who serve with you.

Money Skills:

You must be able to work within a budget if you are going to succeed in nonprofit work. Handling money poorly could cause your organization to lose its nonprofit status, which is a costly mistake due to the tax impacts it would have on you and your donors.

Thought Leadership:

You need to know your field and know it well. This will help your marketing be successful, and it will help the branding of your nonprofit. People want to work with people who know what they are doing, and proving yourself as a thought leader can inspire people to work with you.

What Kind of Education Is Required for Nonprofit Careers?

Most nonprofit jobs require their applicants to have at least a bachelor’s degree, according to Idealist. Having a degree in a business field is helpful. You could also consider a degree in social work, finance, and marketing. The key is to consider the type of work you want to do within the nonprofit world and then pursue training in that field.

Often, a master’s level degree is even more helpful in getting a job within the nonprofit sector, as the advanced training can prepare you for the challenging work of the nonprofit sector. Post University’s Master of Public Administration provides advanced training in administrative, managerial, and supervisory roles within nonprofits and other types of organizations. This degree is a flexible option available entirely online, allowing you to add additional training to your tool belt even while continuing in your current work.

How Do I Start a Career in Philanthropy?

If you are ready to put your skills to work in a field that helps other people, then a career in philanthropy is a good place to do so. Yet getting started can be challenging. Here are some tips to help you find the perfect job within this rewarding sector.

Determine Your Passion

Are you passionate about animals, the environment, or the disadvantaged in your community? You will find nonprofit work in all of these categories. Do you have a strong religious faith or a political or social issue that is highly important to you? Then that passion should drive your nonprofit work. Use the passion in your heart to help you pursue a career path that you will find rewarding, both financially and emotionally.

Volunteer: Get Experience in the Nonprofit Sector

The world of the nonprofit organization relies heavily on volunteers. Volunteering, even while you are still finishing your degree, can give you an important advantage when you are ready to look for paid work. You will already be in the know about how the nonprofits in your particular field of interest operate. It will also help you see if you want to spend your career in this particular field or if your passion would be better served elsewhere.

Build Your Network

Like all potential career paths, building a nonprofit career requires a strong network. In this case, your network is less about other business professionals who can help you find a job and more about others who share your charitable passion. Following these organizations online, and adding people from them to your professional network, may give you insights into potential job openings in the future.

Do not just build your network, either. Learn to use it. Interact regularly with the people in your network who share an interest in your philanthropic passion. Even if you do not find a job lead through them, you can learn more about your field by interacting with them, and you can get your name out there as a potential candidate.

Look for Opportunities and Openings

Once you have been volunteering and building your network, you may find that a job opportunity falls in your lap through those contacts. If you do not find one readily available, start looking. Follow all of the professional organizations within your field of interest to see job postings when they happen. Get involved on job sites like to learn of potential nonprofit careers in your area. Even post on your personal social media pages about what you are looking for, and people can help get the word that you are looking for opportunities and openings.

Start Your Own Nonprofit

Maybe, even after all of this work, you cannot find a nonprofit that aligns with your goals and interests. In that case, you might want to start your own nonprofit. If you do, be sure to follow these important tips:

  • Get educated: If you do not already have a degree that fits well for your philanthropic goals, then start by getting that education. Education also involves doing research on the nonprofit area you are considering starting.
  • Make it legal: Consult with both a lawyer and an accountant to learn what you need to do to operate your nonprofit legally. Setting up your nonprofit correctly allows you to register as a 501(c)(3) organization and avoid paying income tax.
  • Build a team: Build a team of like-minded people around you who also share a passion for your mission.
  • Start taking donations: Once you have everything legal, start building a list of shareholders who you think might be interested in sharing your nonprofit’s mission. Request donations from those potential stakeholders.
  • Keep careful records: Nonprofits face a lot of tax scrutiny. Make sure you keep careful records of your money in and money out. Remember, you cannot make a profit and keep your nonprofit status.
  • Maintain compliance: Use those records you created to maintain compliance with nonprofit rules and regulations, including your fundraising, financial management, ethics, and accountability practices.
  • Market well: Build a marketing plan that will get the word out there about the service your organization is offering. Marketing is essential to bring in donations and find people to help.

Start Your Philanthropic Career Path with Post University

Philanthropic work can be highly rewarding. It starts with the right education. Post University has a Master of Public Administration that is a great fit for this role. It focuses on graduate-level business and public administration teaching, providing the education you need to be a leader in the nonprofit you have chosen. With flexible online learning, you can continue your work in the field even while gaining the skills you need to step into a leadership role.

If you are ready to start giving back through philanthropic work, Post University is ready to help. Contact us today to learn more about this degree and how it could help you pursue a career in philanthropy.

Thank you for reading! The views and information provided in this post do not reflect Post University programs and/or outcomes directly. If you are interested in learning more about our programs, you can find a complete list of our programs on our website or reach out directly!

Please note jobs and/or career outcomes highlighted in this blog do not reflect jobs or career outcomes expected from any Post program. To learn more about Post’s program and their outcomes, please fill out a form to speak with an admissions advisor.