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Is a Nonprofit Job Right for You?

These organizations need fundraisers, program managers

3. Marketing, communications and public relations manager

The nitty-gritty: Front and center — you're in charge for creating and delivering the persona of a nonprofit organization to the public. You could be doing anything from preparing press releases about the nonprofit's campaigns to courting the media to bring attention to the group's work via print, broadcast and social media streams. Depending on the organization, you might be in charge of producing videos or slide shows. And you should expect to have a role in coordinating the group's Web page content. You may need to send out persuasive blast emails, write copy or edit articles for newsletters.

When you put on your public relations hat, you're the spin doctor, stepping out to deliver speeches as well as setting up speaking engagements and preparing speeches for the executive director and board members.

Annual pay range: $62,852 to $111,874, according to PayScale.

Qualifications: A solid background in media relations or journalism, writing, editing and marketing are the core criteria. Special skill set: a genuine feel for the fundamental issues at the forefront of the group's mission, with a vision of how to sell it in a way that will encourage people to give and get involved. A deep network of media contacts will come in handy. A keen familiarity with social media — Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and other Internet platforms — is de rigueur.

The Public Relations Society of America and the American Marketing Association offer workshops and webinars on a variety of subjects you need to know, such as social media and branding; also, look for online and community college certification programs.

4. Education and community outreach

The nitty-gritty: If you like to get your hands dirty, this is a your chance to work at the grassroots level within communities to make a difference. You'll be on the front line offering educational programs, workshops and direct delivery of services to the community. You may be overseeing teams of volunteers who are serving meals, for example.

Say good-bye to the standard workday: Your hours will be fluid, since this position involves working face-to-face with community members; that typically means meetings and workshops in the evenings and on weekends, when they're off the clock.

You will be charged with spreading the news via educational materials, pamphlets and brochures about coming programs and activities to get people eager and involved. You'll need to reach out to community members to give them the nuts and bolts on future programs and activities. You may also be closely involved with creating the educational materials as well.

Annual pay range: $35,658 to $70,729, according to, a compensation information site.

Qualifications: Organization and communication skills are prerequisites, plus a knack for meeting new people and building bonds to work together. On-the-job training is typically offered. You might consider attaining a certificate in social work or human services management from a community college to boost your hiring prospects.

5. Finance administration and operations

The nitty-gritty: Budget-conscious nonprofit boards are increasingly fixated on bottom-line results. Donors, too, often see themselves as investors in a cause and give more freely to those nonprofits that are businesslike in their approach and regularly meet their financial goals. That's why someone with a nose for numbers is invaluable to a nonprofit. And the best people for these jobs are often those who have done this kind of work in the private sector and have the mind-set to cut through the clutter and make tough financial decisions.

Depending on the size of the group, you can expect to juggle any number of duties, from making purchasing assessments to processing payroll checks, managing invoicing and tallying up accounts receivable and accounts paid. You'll also oversee dealings with banks, including checking and savings accounts and credit cards. Managing on a shoestring can make for some tense times, but this inside-the-belly work is vital to an organization's staying power.

Annual pay: The average salary for a finance manager at a nonprofit is $66,000, according to the online job aggregation company SimplyHired, but this can vary greatly by company, location, industry, experience and benefits.

Qualifications: If you have a background as a chief financial officer, controller or accountant, step on up. A degree in accounting or business is generally required. The most common certification is a certified public accountant. The demanding exam is administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. CPAs are licensed to offer a variety of accounting services, including tax preparation. Other certifications include certified internal auditor and certified financial manager.

Expertise: financial statement analysis, investment evaluation and corporate governance, as well as accounting, auditing, regulatory requirements and industry practices. You will also want to be up to speed on financial and accounting computer software, such as Quickbooks and Fund E-Z.

Kerry Hannon, AARP jobs expert, is a career transition expert and an award-winning author. Her latest book is Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy … and Pays the Bills.

How to Find a Nonprofit Job: More Sites to Explore

5. Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group works with nonprofits looking for specific candidates to fill positions and posts those on the site, but the team also offers a fee-based service, aimed at job seekers transitioning to the nonprofit world, that includes career coaching, job search strategy and résumé and interview help.

6. The Foundation Center is a premier site that is chockablock with philanthropy information and news.

7. Sign up for the Philanthropy News Digest jobs board to learn about opportunities at foundations and nonprofits. Recently, there were 722 listings in the database.

8. The NonProfit Times is the trade publication for nonprofit managers. Its website houses the nonprofit Jobs Career Center, where you can search by keyword, field, location, salary and required education.

9. The Chronicle of Philanthropy is the principal news outlet for the philanthropy sphere. Its Jobs page has hundreds of fundraising, programming and other positions listed. The New to the Nonprofit World section offers expert tips for those who don't have nonprofit experience. —KH

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