Young People: The Non-Profit Space Needs You (Desperately)

Young People: The Non-Profit Space Needs You (Desperately)

I love young people. Let me explain, I love their energy, optimism, and confidence.

Give’s first hire was a young person, Nicole The Intern. Nicole is studying Digital Enterprise Management at the University of Toronto. She’s smart, creative, and a hard worker. But most importantly, she knows in her heart that she wants to build a career in the non-profit sector.

In her own words, this is how Nicole came to realize her direction:

“Growing up, I never knew what I wanted to do for a career. Actually, that’s an understatement. I’ve gone from wanting to be a geologist, to a musician, to a firefighter; I was a mess.

For my university major, I chose a program that was business and technology focused because that would guarantee me a job, right?

For my first summer internship, I landed a job with an iconic national brand. As cool and tempting as it was, that summer I realized I just couldn’t see myself working long-term in the corporate world. There had to be something else out there that didn’t come with a cubicle.

The following spring, my mentor passed away. He had always said that if he had more time, he would’ve started a non-profit to help children with disabilities. That sparked something in me, I wanted to learn more about non-profits.

For my second summer internship, I worked for a local non-profit. I learned the value of using my talents for the greater good, doing something important for others.

Life is too short. Do something you love.”

Young people like Nicole are important to Give. And they should be important to your non-profit. I don’t have data to back this up, but at least in Ontario, it seems as though there are more non-profit studies/leadership courses, certificates, and diplomas than ever before. More people—young and old—are finding their way to charities, to lead, fundraise, and make this world a better place.

This post is meant to help those young people graduating from college or university in April. It’s also intended to help those young people who, like I once felt, are stuck in a corporate job struggling to find meaning in their work. My message to you is: the non-profit space needs your talent and vision. Join us.

I asked two of my friends to offer up advice to you, Dear Young Person.

David Hutchinson
Executive Search Consultant
Hutchinson Group Inc.

“The non-profit sector is undergoing the biggest transition in executive leadership it has ever faced. You, who are graduating today, may lack hands-on experience, but represent the future leadership of the sector. The next 5-15 years will be pivotal for the sector. Spend those years building your career, don’t just get ‘a job.’ Hard as it may be, try to look 40 years down the road and imagine what you want to be doing during the last 5-10 years of your career. Then reverse engineer the road to get you there. Will there be twists and turns? Of course! Expect them. Is it an impossible exercise? No! And it’ll all be worth it. Find a mentor. Pursue leadership development opportunities. Ask questions, ask more questions. Network up and down. And volunteer on a Board of Directors. The career opportunities will come, including chances to lead. Embrace them and lead on!”

Devin Komarniski
Marketing and Communications Manager
Bissell Centre

“Working in the non-profit sector is exhilarating and deeply rewarding. No seriously, it really is! Yes, it may take some time before you land your dream job, but when you find that special role, Monday will become your favourite day of the week. However, know this: your dream job is not looking for you. You must discover it. I urge you, dive in deep, even if your first opportunity doesn’t seem like a perfect fit. Your experience working at a not-quite-what-you-want non-profit will provide you with invaluable insights and knowledge that will benefit you greatly in your future endeavours.”

And here’s my two cents: if you want to be a non-profit leader, never stop being a student.

Surprise! You may be graduating soon, but you ain’t done learnin’!

In my experience, the most successful fundraisers are students of marketing, economics, art, psychology, statistics, etc. These people have such diverse interests beyond fundraising that their broad perspectives help them to think creatively about inspiring donors.

Want to be in the non-profit space?

Don’t stop learning.

Give is a direct response fundraising agency helping Canadian charities raise more money. Wanna work together? You gotta get referred. We’re picky that way—and you’ll like us more for it.

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Give is a direct response fundraising agency. We help Canadian charities inspire their supporters to greater levels of commitment. Give was created for your charity and its supporters.