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Home > The Dialogue > Nonprofit vs. For-Profit
The Dialogue
Tuesday, April 04, 2006 12:57 AM
Nonprofit vs. For-Profit

What are the pros? What are the cons? What experiences have you had?  What would you like to know about the other side of the money fence?


Kevin - 4/19/2006 3:50:39 PM
My guess is that if you asked those working in corporate America whether they'd like to work somewhere that better connects to their souls, almost everyone would say yes. Many would list nonprofits near or at the top of that "soulful" place. But I'm wondering if nonprofits are all they're touted to be. Is the work there more fulfilling? Can it be soul-sucking? Is it just as good to do nonprofit work after hours and work day-to-day in the for-profit world?
Mike - 4/6/2006 12:58:44 PM
I worked at a non-profit for 9 years and in 2001 started a for-profit agency that works with non-profits. The non-profit I worked at was very well-managed (guess I got lucky!) and was a great place to work...but I wanted more; more money...more creative challenges...something different. In a very real way I feel I've got the best of both worlds now...business opportunities and getting to work with great causes...and I can take time off when I want to spend with family and friends and volunteering as time allows. I don't see a dichotomy between working at a for-profit and working at a non-profit in terms of living a rewarding life. I feel I've been very, very lucky.
Karen - 4/5/2006 5:59:41 PM
I worked for a multi-million dollar foundation. I went there thinking it would be chock full of warm and fuzzy feelings. What a mistake. I have never had a worse work experience. This leads me to believe it's the people i work with that matter. That is how I've judged each job since.
Julie - 4/4/2006 8:30:47 PM
My best year in corporate life (before leaving) was the year I was afforded a sabbatical. It was six months of bliss. I became a student again, and I turned on neurons that had been dead for 19 years. Taking notes and engaging with others who were intellectually curious and devoted to a subject was entirely refreshing. It was so refreshing, in fact, that it created my impetus to leave. My corporate life was an all-or-nothing one. The travel, the hours, the expectations, the competition -- none of it was conducive to having a fulfilling work life and ALSO contributing to areas of concern outside my work. I felt passion about my work, but I also felt shackled. Now I feel relevant and contributing, but I wish my career had enabled me to pursue more of my dreams without leaving it.
Coley - 4/4/2006 8:02:41 PM
Awesome point Chris makes. Never really looked at it that way. Thanks for opening my eyes!
Chris Bailey - 4/4/2006 4:54:49 PM
I think the dichotomy here is a bit too rigid: as if the 'non' and 'for' change everything. Most of my professional life has been spent in non-profits and I've seen some of the very same things that folks may only think happen in corporations: lies, harrassment, and micromanagement. And I've seen great things happen and develop terrific friends and colleagues in my nonprofit career. I don't think nonprofits have the monopoly on what's "soulful." That just kind of lets our forprofit businesses off the hook...they too should be aiming to create a space for their employees to develop soulful work.
Alice Brown - 4/4/2006 12:22:44 PM
I have worked in the corp. world, and now I work in non-profit. I would NEVER go back. Not only becasue my work is finally rewarding (in more ways than a paycheck), but because the people I work with finally have the same vaules as me.
Harvey - 4/4/2006 11:50:02 AM
I've never worked at a non-profit, but I do a lot of volunteer work and I think it's great. If I actually worked there and got paid I think it would take away some of the "reward" that I get out of my work.


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