Mid-career is often a time to reassess your career path. If you're at that stage of your career when earning a salary is not enough and you're thinking about "giving back," consider the world of non-profits for your next career move. Non-profits exist across a wide spectrum, defined by the IRS rules that apply to them.
Before you take the plunge in the non-profit world, there are some steps you can take to help increase your success.
Decide if you want to get involved in direct service, advocacy or support.
- Public Charities [IRS rule 501(c)3]: social service organizations that provide goods and services, like the Red Cross, your local library, etc.
- Advocacy Organizations [IRS rule 501(c)4]: political activists for causes, such as Greenpeace, NRA, and the American Teacher's Union.
- Membership Associations [IRS rule 501(c)6]: professional organizations that represent members, including the National Association of Realtors, and local or state organizations like Chambers of Commerce.
Identify the cause you want to support.
Learn about the environment or "personality" of the non-profit. Do you want a large organization or a small, grassroots entrepreneurial focus? Are you comfortable doing many jobs, or would you prefer specializing in one area? As with any job, a good fit between your temperament and the organization is important.
Volunteer. Either participate in an activity or become a board member. The "in the trenches" experience will teach you more about an organization than you can learn from reading, networking and interviewing.
After you've followed all the above steps, you may be ready to apply for a job with a non-profit. Do your research on the specifics of the job. Be prepared for the lifestyle changes you may encounter in relation to your time and income.
The more informed you are about your decision, the better chance you have of finding a good job that suits your needs
Dr. Jan Cannon, Job-Hunt's Mid-Life Career Expert, is author of Now What Do I Do? The Woman's Guide to a New Career, Find a Job: 7 Steps to Success, Finding a Job in a Slow Economy, co-author of Exceptional Accomplishment, and a career professional for 20 years. Visit her website, JobSearchDoctor.com, and circle Jan on Google+ for more career advice and help.