Jan 13

Career: Resources for Professional Development in the Nonprofit Sector

By Ellen Abramowitz, (ALT Shiga-ken 2012-13), a New York City native with a background in international energy, environment and sustainability nonprofits. She hopes to continue to promote community-based change in how people interact with their environment through education and action-based programming.

Currently, there are about 1.5 million nonprofits in the United States. These organizations are present in many fields including government and policy, economics, health, environment and the arts. If you are looking to advance your career in the nonprofit sector, or volunteer with a nonprofit organization, there are certain skills that are always needed by these groups, which generally achieve great results with a small staff and a tight budget. Gaining skills in project management, grant-writing, fundraising and budgeting – even if it is not your focus area – will help you stand out from other candidates.


The Foundation Center (foundationcenter.org) connects people who want to change the world with the resources they need. They provide information about finding grants and donors. In their New York City location, they provide many free and low-cost classes monthly on topics like proposal writing, budgeting and networking. These are necessary skills for anyone interested in a career in nonprofits. Here is the January calendar:

Another helpful resource is Young Nonprofit Professionals Network ( http://ynpnnyc.org/). This organization provides opportunities for skill building, job and event postings. Membership is $25/year, but it is possible to join their listserv for free and hear about different events.

If you are looking to gain skills and make a difference, volunteering to complete a project for a nonprofit may help you gain new skills and give you an opportunity to try something new. One of the largest groups is Net Impact (http://netimpactnyc.org/). The Service Corp program gives professionals from a variety of fields a chance to apply their skills in a new way. They are currently accepting applications for the winter season (Apply here: http://netimpactnyc.org/programs/service-corps/). Net Impact has a large network locally and internationally.

Additionally, Be Social Change (http://besocialchange.com/) also focuses on developing social entrepreneurs (people who are motivated about changing the world in new ways). They have an extensive amount of workshops for every stage of professional, as well as a listserv for jobs and events (http://besocialchange.com/tools-resources/). Be Social Change also has a large national network.

This is just a sampling of some of the resources available for professional development. Though these resources focus on nonprofit development, these skills are helpful no matter what field you pursue. Hopefully, you will be able to take advantage of these resources and develop a new interest or skillset. Please feel free to add your comments and recommend additional listservs/events/links/organizations you believe are helpful professional development resources.

Editor’s Note:  Many JETAA chapters are already 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations or are pursuing status as a non-profit entity.  So if you have expertise or want to gain experience with non-profits, one place to start is also with your local JETAA chapter.

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