There is overwhelming kindness in this world despite the cynics who doubt its existence. Kindness admires charitable work, but many people are unaware of the job opportunities afforded to them for pursuing that line of work. There is a strong drive for schools to support charitable organizations and give students a taste for it through volunteering.

Volunteering through schools is a wonderful way for students to network. More often than not, they learn a great deal about themselves by doing so. Maybe this is the kind of work that those great minds will want.

But, in order to get those kinds of jobs after volunteering, one must be adaptable. Change is the only way to make a positive difference, and to be open to change is to be open to new ideas. The job will always be a learning experience.

Also, reading and writing, no doubt, are very important skills. There are reasons why these are taught at such an early age. Those who write well and practice their writing often will be able to successfully compose reports and evaluations and better communicate with donors, grantees and colleagues. Also, analyzing proposals and interpreting data will have to be done in order to better communicate results. Communication skills as well as research skills are a must. Those who are best able to communicate their positions as well as stay informed in their field have a significant advantage.

Another qualification, of course, is the ability to comply with the law. There are laws that govern philanthropic associations specifically at all levels. The California Nonprofit Act of 2004, for example, states “Charitable corporations with assets of $2 million or more must prepare annual financial statements audited by an independent certified public accountant (CPA). The statements must use generally accepted accounting principles. The independent CPA must follow generally accepted auditing standards.” While, this particular kind of law might not be needed for every philanthropic position, it is useful to know that there are existing regulations.

There are many corporate philanthropy jobs, and people with all different skillsets are qualified for them. Here is a list of jobs that one can expect to find as an advocate for, and prospective employee of, a philanthropic association:

Grants Management: Director of Grants Management, Grant Manager

Charitable organizations receive grants as donations and give grants in return for advocacy, and it is up to these people to manage that money and keep it in check. Directors are generally more concerned with long-term planning and strategies for the future. The managers monitor grants and maintains grant reports.

Research Director, Associate, Librarian

They are in charge of researching and preparing reports pertinent to the organization that they represent. They assist all other employees in being fully informed of changes that occur within their concerns.

Director of Donor Services, Advancement Officer, Gift Planning

Donors, especially those who routinely give large sums, ideally wish for returns on their investments. Those returns can be in the form of tangible gifts or maybe a detailed report on where their money is going. This is yet another department that manages the foundation’s assets.

Human Resources: Receptionist, Office Manager, Recruitment Official, Computer Professionals, Director of Informational Services

These positions can be found in most large corporations, even nonprofits! These administrators manage the day-to-day life of the company or organization ensuring that information is distributed to other employees, donors, volunteers — anyone involved.

Communications/Public Relations

These are the people in charge of distributing information to the public regarding their cause/foundation whether they are snail-mail flyers or brochures in a hotel.

Program Director, Program Officer, Program Associate

Similar to the Grants Management personnel, they are in charge of analyzing grant proposals and managing grant making programs. They also conduct background research and help to organize and manage events put on by the foundation.


They manage assets and accounting, work with the treasurer and deal with all financial statements. So, when the foundations want to give a grant in exchange for advocacy, they go through this department.

Senior Management and Foundations Board

They oversee the inner-workings of the entire association. They have the uppermost abilities to make strategic decisions. A first-time jobseeker might not pursue this kind of position, however it is important for them to understand exactly what their position is in relation to other employees.

– Anna Brailow

Sources: California Registry of Charitable Trusts, Law Crossing, Philanthropy Network
Photo: VolunteerHub


Though for-profit businesses have taken a hit in years past, crippled by downsizing and high unemployment rates, the nonprofit sector continues to shine. As the third-largest workforce in the U.S., many aspiring college graduates are gravitating toward injustice-fighting and social change-fostering employment opportunities. For university students specifically wanting to join the international fight against poverty, consider these often neglected majors below.

  1. Philosophy: Despite its reputation for being “impractical” or “frou-frou,” studying anything from Plato to existentialism will refine some well-needed job skills. Employers continue to deem an analytic and creative mindset as crucial to a collaborative work environment. And who knows? Perhaps in that brain of yours, sitting right next to Karl Marx’s ideologies, you have an interesting solution to youth unemployment.
  1. History: Reading about Gilgamesh and pouring over original documents could earn you a kick-butt job kicking poverty’s butt. Learning the historical context of political discord, jihadist movements or religious traditions will foster cultural awareness. Plus, the old adage of history repeating itself if gone unlearned must have some truth to it.
  1. Sociology: Understanding contemporary social issues and having a sociological imagination will not only please C. Wright Mills but also prospective employers. That SOC 235 Social Problems course could prove helpful when discussing the general U.S. opinion on foreign aid policy. The communication and number crunching skills will also impress.
  1. English: This degree will raise some eyebrows in the College of Business; however, Longfellow can jumpstart a philanthropic career. Being able to communicate, both out loud and on paper, is something few prospective employees can do. Plus, any grant writing experience will be considered a godsend by the director of fundraising development.
  1. Sustainability Studies: If windmills and solar panels are your thing, consider an interdisciplinary major that combines ecology and the humanities. Though environmentally-conscious nonprofits are popping up like mad, your background knowledge may offer solutions to water sanitation problems or food deserts for poverty-driven organizations.
  1. Theatre: After suffering through family dinners talking about the “future” and long nights of play practice, a thespian could make the nonprofit sector their stage. Confidence and an engaging persona are key when lobbying or birddogging for the cause. Online broadcasting, whether it be in podcast or video form, is also a great way to spread awareness.
  1. Women and Gender Studies: Delving into the racial and ethnic nuances of the patriarchy could actually have life-changing implications in the nonprofit sector. Taking humanities courses in anything from sociology to political science will shed some light on the feminism of poverty. And with organizations such as U.N. Women dedicated to solving just that, you will definitely find a niche.
  1. Graphic Design: Sans-serifs and color swatches may prove useful when perusing for job openings. When it comes to beautifying a website or creating an eye-catching advertisement, few have the expertise. From collaborating with a nonprofit’s communications specialist to creating a monthly newsletter, all you artsy grads will come in handy.
  1. Journalism: In the wake of recent cutbacks, digital news sites for nonprofit organizations are exploding across the U.S. From Color Lines in New York to our own Borgen Magazine in Seattle, an increasing number of “do-good” groups are recognizing the power of media. If composing a piece about Syrians living in abject poverty sounds up your alley, jump on the journalism bandwagon.
  1. International Studies: Though not for the foreign language-avoiding liberal arts undergraduate, this interdisciplinary major allows students to adopt a global view. Political science courses, study abroad and lots of broken Spanish could translate into a foreign relations position. Many nonprofits, especially those with a worldwide focus, need a multilingual and culturally-aware employee.

While stemming away from STEM majors may cause for a few disgruntled parents or skeptical classmates, nonprofit jobs can offer recent graduates a satisfying career. From thespians turned lobbyers to history buffs turned fundraising directors, the possibilities are limitless.

Lauren Stepp

Sources: NY Times, Urban Institute, Washington State University
Photo: Flickr