Taking For-profit Know-how to the Nonprofit Sector
It’s no secret that an MBA is a perfect qualification for an employee seeking to work in the business world. Although business training or experience is not necessarily stressed in nonprofit organizations, this often puts them at a distinct disadvantage. The conventional caricature of nonprofits is that they attract people with lots of heart but not management skills. Why, after all, would business people and MBAs take skill sets that focus on profit and apply them to do what is literally the opposite? Promisingly, the tide is turning: People with for-profit skills are being welcomed more than ever before into the nonprofit space.
The Access Project works to improve health care in Rwanda and other African nations. To succeed in a nonprofit like Access, you might expect that being a doctor would be the perfect qualification. But that’s not necessarily the case. Right now, we need people who are excellent managers, who are able to run an organization efficiently, cost-effectively and with an eye on results. So in our case, a background in successfully running a business might be more desirable than a medical degree.
The skills needed in a given nonprofit will vary with the time and place, but overall it requires potential employees and managers to be intelligent and imaginative when thinking about how best to use their human resources. Here are three points for nonprofit managers to consider in building management skill when reviewing potential employees:
1. Choose the employee with the right skills. As in any situation, you should look for employees with an affinity and a genuine interest in what your organization is doing. When you consider the long hours and the generally lower compensation available to workers in the nonprofit environment, employees need to evince a calling to do the work. Real passion for the organization’s mission adds to camaraderie and boosts productivity.