Seeking a job in the nonprofit sector? Join our webinar to learn how Idealist and GuideStar can help you find your ideal position and verify the nonprofit for legitimacy. In this event, we will cover how to use Idealist and Guidestar to find and vet a job, internship, or volunteer opportunity; specific tips to improve how you search, advice on cover letters, resumes, and interviews; and general nonprofit resources that can aid you in your journey. Attendees will then have the opportunity to ask panelists their questions in a live Q&A session. Please join us to see how Idealist and GuideStar can help jump-start your career!
Before we get started, I’d like to tell you all a little bit about what I do at Idealist.
visit idealistas and idealiste if you want to check for unique listings, they may not appear on idealist unless someone cross listed them
Action opportunities and events
There are a ton of different kinds of nonprofit doing every kind of work you can think of.
Talk about 501 c 3 status, and international nonprofits (Charities)
There are some positions specific to nonprofits, but many jobs are in both the for profit and nonprofit sector. Anything you can do in the for profit sector, you can do for a nonprofit
Social enterprise definition - using market/business strategies to achieve a social good/ they have a mission statement / in the usa, many are b corps
You may already know what you want, but in case you don’t, we have some tips
Before you start searching for a job in the nonprofit sector, you should know the advantages that come with working in the sector.
Also, it’s important to be aware of what you want in a job, and what you have to offer potential employers. It will save you time, since you don’t really want to apply to jobs you don’t want.
To help you figure out what type of position you should apply for, we have a handy exercise we call “The Five Lenses”. There are many ways to look at jobs in the nonprofit sector, and this is just one of them.
To do this exercise, take any job at a nonprofit organization, and try to define it using these lenses.
Organization…. is it big or small? Red cross or soup kitchen?
Role….. what will you actually be doing in this job? Fundraising? Administration? Advocacy?
System… what work does the nonprofit actually do? There are thousands of different types of nonprofits. A foundation gives money to other nonprofits, a political campaign is very different from a nonprofit advocacy organization… the list goes on. Try to figure out how the nonprofit achieves its mission.
Issue…. what do they focus on improving/fixing/helping
Population… some serve very broad populations, others very narrow
Now that we’ve given you these five lenses, here’s a way to use them.
Search for about fifty (if you’re ambitious, otherwise start with 15) jobs that you really like. DO NOT REGARD: location, salary, qualifications. DO REGARD: your interest in them. Lay them out, and find the commonalities between them using the five lenses. What do the majority of them have in common? Write it down. Reflect.
Now that you have an idea of what sort of work you’d like to do, you can use Idealist to find the right job for you.
Saving searches is a great time-saver!
There are a ton of tips for applying for a nonprofit job, here’s a few of what we think are the most useful.
Cover letters: this applies to all jobs, not just nonprofit. Have a unique cover letter! If you’re applying to dozens of jobs, double and triple check your emails and cover letters to make sure they are addressed to the right organization!
At Idealist, we look at questions or cover letters first. Quality of writing, personality. Your school/GPA matters, but not much compared to work history, volunteering.
Whether in a cover letter or an interview, express why you’re passionate about the org’s mission. Back it up with things you’ve done, or a reason why you’re so passionate. Don’t make something up! If you’re not genuinely excited about what a nonprofit does, you probably don’t want to work there.
Ask what people are already doing. Suggest MeetUp, YNPN
We have tons of resources on our site and are constantly putting up blog posts to help guide you in your search for jobs and volunteer opportunities, so check it out! You can also try these career advice sites.
Finding Your Dream Nonprofit Job: How to Use GuideStar & Idealist.org to Find the Right Position
How to use Idealist.org
and GuideStar to find
the right position for
We’re Matt and Caroline, and we’re
Community Managers at Idealist.org, a
website that helps people turn their
intentions into action.
● reviews organizations
● monitors site content
● helps you make the most of Idealist
● develops initiatives to engage our
What is Idealist.org?
Idealist.org is a nonprofit organization that has been helping
people move their good intentions to action since 1995.
Our website, Idealist.org, houses the largest nonprofit job board
in the United States.
On Idealist, 108,000 organizations are posting:
● Over 12,000 jobs
● Over 2,000 internships
● About 14,000 volunteer opportunities
● About 400 events
We also have sites in Spanish (idealistas.org) and French
Idealist is a platform where you can:
● Find jobs, internships, and volunteer opportunities
● Post opportunities for others to get involved
● Find and connect with other organizations and individuals
● Act as an individual in the community, offering your
expertise as a resource and seeking other individuals to
Today we'll talk about
● What the nonprofit sector is like
● How to find the right position for you
● How to use Idealist to find a job, internship, or volunteer
● Specific tips to improve how you search
● How to verify a nonprofit’s legitimacy using GuideStar
● Advice on cover letters, resumes, and interviews
● General nonprofit resources
What is a nonprofit organization?
A nonprofit is an organization that uses its revenue to
achieve its mission, rather than distributing it as profit or
They're required to have a board of directors, can accept
donations and often have volunteers.
The goal of a nonprofit organization is not to be
successful in terms of wealth, but in terms of giving
value to the groups of people it administers to.
● Schools and universities
● Soup kitchens
● Churches and other religious groups
● Research organizations
● Orchestras and symphonies
● Advocacy organizations
Types of Nonprofit Organizations
Common Jobs at Nonprofits
● Fundraising, Development, Grant Writing
● Program management
● Direct service - social work, teaching, counseling
● Marketing and social media
● Human Resources
Other types of organizations on Idealist
● Social Enterprises
● Consultants and Vendors to Nonprofits
● Nonprofit Recruiters
● Government Agencies
Finding the right position for you in the
Why work for a nonprofit?
● Meaningful work: do something you care about
● The people: everyone around you cares too
● Growth potential
● Wear lots of "different hats"
● More responsibility
● Work/life balance
● The big picture
○ Do you have a professional mission?
○ What are your short and long term goals?
○ Where are you in your career?
● What work experience and skills do you have?
● Keep an updated, written inventory of your work and volunteer
● Everything counts!
There are five ways to look at nonprofit work. Which
appeal to you?
o Big? Small? Well established? Start-up?
o Fundraising? Direct service? Communications?
o Politics? Media? Foundation? Advocacy?
o Poverty? Education? The environment?
Know what you want: The Five Lenses
Know what you want: Career Tracks
● Visit job search sites (like Idealist) and find fifty
jobs you like, regardless of location, salary, and
● Discover what they have in common using the
five lenses (Organization, Role, System, Issue,
● Evaluate your observations. Did anything
Using Idealist to find a job in the nonprofit
Ways to use Idealist
● Researching the organizations you’re interested in working with
● Finding internships and volunteer opportunities to build your
● Learning about what might be required of you in certain career
● Finding positions in your area (or elsewhere!) that match your
goals and skill set
Your Idealist personal page
● You don’t need a personal page on Idealist to search…
● Benefits of having a personal page on Idealist
○ Saving searches
○ Email alerts
○ Getting your ducks in order
○ Let’s take a look at a personal profile!
● Search Idealist
o Keywords (anything!)
o Area of Focus (eg. hunger relief, social justice)
o Job Function (eg. education, organizing)
o Location search
● Start another search
● Using quotes
● “And” “Or” “Not”
Saving Searches &
Creating Email Alerts
● Once you’ve created a search that gets you the results you like,
you can save this search for future use.
● You can also choose Get Email Alert to have a daily list of new
opportunities matching your search delivered to your inbox.
Using GuideStar to verify nonprofit status
and obtain more information
● GuideStar is a great resource for even more information on
nonprofits in the United States.
● If you have some nonprofits you’d like to know even more about, go
to www.guidestar.org, and search for them by name or EIN.
● Once you’ve found your nonprofit, you can see information about
legitimacy, budget, operating officers, and more!
Quick tips on applying for jobs in the
● Be sure to express why you’re passionate about the
organization’s mission (resume, cover letter, interview)
● Show why you’d be great at the job
● Don’t forget to include your volunteer experience
● Be careful with your cover letter, resume, and emails
● Seek out jobs with unique application requirements
● Check organization websites, not just job boards
● Print out your job descriptions
● Just because you get the job, doesn’t mean you have to take it
● One page rule (resumes)
● Ask about the dress code if you're not sure
● Say "organization" not company
● Study the organization's website. Become familiar with their:
○ events, programs, projects
● Come with specific questions about the job and organization
● Be yourself!
● Send a thank you note by email as soon as possible after
Explore your whole network. You have one!
Make sure everyone knows you're looking for a job.
o Facebook / LinkedIn / Twitter
o Your friends/family/family friends
o Your neighbors
o Your classmates
o Each other!
And be sure to check out...
Articles, webinars, events, and more for nonprofit job
seekers and professionals. On IdealistCareers.org you can:
● Attend webinars and live chats presented by career
● Learn what hiring managers and HR professionals look
for in candidates
● Identify and pursue your passion and purpose
● Explore your professional and leadership development
● Connect with fellow changemakers
We're the Community Engagement Team! Call
Reach us by phone: 646.786.6886