Of Nuclear Weapons and Nonprofit Careers: Keys That Release Your (Career) Energy
Getting you in the right place, surrounded by your boss and co-workers in the right place, not only makes everyone emotionally happy, but more importantly leads to productivity gains that you might never expect. It’s the reason baseball teams spend so much money on a scouting system. They know that when they put the right players on the field in the right positions, it’s World Series time!
OK, so everything up to now can apply whether we’re in New Delhi making widgets for export or in the slums of the same city feeding the poor. That’s not to say that it’s unimportant, but there’s nothing unique to nonprofits about knowing what you’re good at and then finding work that suits your talents and strengths. At that rate you could be just as happy at the USO, the U.S. Army or U.S. Steel.
So what is it about nonprofits that makes the difference in us and our colleagues. And maybe more importantly, what’s clear when its missing? What’s the second key?
Being mission-driven is the most important aspect of the nonprofit world. The fundraisers know it. They’ll tell you that you stand a much greater chance of getting a major gift from someone who is enamored with your mission than from someone who doesn’t care. But you’re not raising money, you just want a job, right? Sorry, you’re wrong.
How is knowing what mission suits you the second key to your career? Why should you care whether you’re an accountant for ADM or the Archery Federation? You’re good with numbers, and it’s all for a good cause, right? Wrong again! As a nonprofit veteran of 30 years, or a young idealist wanting to advocate for her or his passion, or a for-profit refugee wanting to explore the nonprofit land of milk and honey, knowing what mission you care about releases more (career) energy than you ever thought possible. In the nonprofit world, being well skilled is not enough. You’re not complete until you’re “well purposed.”
Matt Hugg is an author and instructor in nonprofit management in the U.S. and abroad. He is president and founder of Nonprofit.Courses, an on-demand, e-learning educational resource for nonprofit leaders, staff, board members and volunteers, with hundreds of courses in nearly every aspect of nonprofit work.
He’s the author of "The Guide to Nonprofit Consulting," and "Philanders Family Values, Fun Scenarios for Practical Fundraising Education for Boards, Staff and Volunteers," and a contributing author to "The Healthcare Nonprofit: Keys to Effective Management."
Over his 30-year career, Matt has held positions at the Boy Scouts of America, Lebanon Valley College, the University of Cincinnati, Ursinus College and the University of the Arts. In these positions, he raised thousands of gifts from individuals, foundations, corporations and government entities, and worked with hundreds of volunteers on boards and fundraising committees, in addition to his organizational leadership responsibilities.
Matt teaches fundraising, philanthropy and marketing in graduate programs at Eastern University, the University of Pennsylvania, Juniata College and Thomas Edison State University via the web, and in-person in the U.S., Africa, Asia and Europe, and is a popular conference speaker. He has a B.S. from Juniata College and an M.A. in philanthropy and development from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota. Matt has served on the board of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the Nonprofit Career Network of Philadelphia and several nonprofits.