Let's get one thing straight: You don't have to accept a life of poverty just by working in the nonprofit sector. Nonprofit salaries tend to be lower than those at for-profit corporations, but they aren't that much lower. Just take a look at the pay for nonprofit executives. You don't have to completely reinvent yourself in order to work in the sector. There are some specific skills that can really help you out in your job search. Some of these traits were discussed in a recent article in The Mercury News:
- Excellent computer skills, including familiarity with social media.
- Good written and verbal communication skills.
- Good "people" skills (especially for positions in fundraising).
- Flexibility is a must, especially for smaller organizations. These types of nonprofits will likely be under bigger budget constraints, so being able to perform different roles is helpful.
- You should have a lot of passion for the cause the organization pursues. If you aren't interested in their mission, you likely will have a hard time focusing on the work that needs to be done.