10 Myths about Nonprofit Careers

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MYTH 1: THE ECONOMY DOESN’T DEPEND ON NONPROFIT JOBS.
 

Debunked: Over 1.5 million nonprofits in the U.S. employ 8% of the nation’s workforce and account for over 5% of the Gross National Product. In New York City alone, one in seven people work for a nonprofit.

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MYTH 2: NONPROFITS WASTE TIME AND MONEY.
 

Debunked: Social impact is the nonprofit bottom line, so nonprofits put a premium on using valuable time and money effectively and efficiently.

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MYTH 3: NONPROFITS ARE POOR, AND POORLY DRESSED.
 

Debunked: Some nonprofits, including universities, hospitals, and other large institutions have multi-million dollar budgets—and professional attire is definitely the norm.

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MYTH 4: NONPROFITS ARE FOR PEOPLE WHO COULDN’T HACK IT ELSEWHERE.
 

Debunked: “Sector switching” occurs regularly between nonprofit, government, and for-profit sectors, and high standards for success draw people from all sectors to meet the challenge and excitement of the nonprofit world.

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MYTH 5: THERE’S NO WAY “UP” IN A NONPROFIT CAREER.
 

Debunked: Nonprofits tend to offer young people more leadership opportunities than other sectors and there are internal career paths in larger nonprofits.

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MYTH 6: NONPROFIT = NO MONEY.
 

Debunked: “Nonprofit” refers to the 501(c) tax code in the United States, not whether or not the organization can make any money! Revenues are used to pursue the mission. There are no owners or shareholders in nonprofit organizations.

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MYTH 7: ALL NONPROFITS ARE THE SAME.
 

Debunked: What do the NFL, the New York Stock Exchange, Mayo Clinic, Greenpeace, and the American Red Cross all have in common? They’re all nonprofits.

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MYTH 8: YOU CAN’T MAKE A DECENT SALARY WORKING FOR A NONPROFIT.
 

Debunked: Median salary for a Nonprofit CEO in the Triangle area is $70,500. Some nonprofits offer better wages than their counterparts in the for-profit sector.

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MYTH 9: MY DEGREE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH NONPROFITS.
 

Debunked: There is a nonprofit job for every interest and academic discipline.

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MYTH 10: NONPROFIT BOARDS ARE FOR OLD PEOPLE.
 

Debunked: Nonprofits are looking to younger generations to fill vital board and leadership roles.

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