25 Situations Only Nonprofit People Can Understand

You’re dedicated, filled with optimism, and you want to make the world a better place. So you get a job at a nonprofit, where your talents will be appreciated and you’ll be paid handsomely to improve our world, right? Here are 25 reasons working at a nonprofit is a little different.

1. When you tell someone where you work and they respond, “Oh, that must be so rewarding!”

2. When you have to write a fundraising email

3. When your co-workers say “the cause” is what gets them out of bed every morning

4. When you’re out with friends and realize they’re making way more money than you

5. When the office manager sends out an email that there’s leftover food from a meeting in the kitchen

6. When you interview at a for-profit company and explain how your non-profit experience is relevant

7. When someone says that quintessential nonprofit phrase, “capacity building”

8. When a new employee gets a new laptop and you’re still stuck with your 5 year old piece of crap

9. When a corporation tells you they’ll provide expertise instead of funding

10. When staff eat last at a fundraising event

11. When someone suggests that you write to Oprah, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, etc. as a fundraising idea

12. When you get an angry letter from a crazy person

13. When friends ask if you’re renting or buying

14. When you meet a lawyer or investment banker who says, “Oh, when I retire, I want to try a nonprofit.”

15. When your boss asks you to put in some “volunteer” weekend time working in a booth

16. When you try and talk to a co-worker who’s been there for more than three years

17. When you have to share a hotel room at a conference

18. When a foundation tells you they’re suspending grantmaking while they undergo strategic planning

19. When someone says freelancers should be willing to donate their services to your cause

20. When someone quits and they aren’t going to hire someone new

21. When you ask your Executive Director if there’s a budget for staff training

Of course, there are some highlights to working in a nonprofit…

22. When you find out your team will be getting cost of living raises for the first time in 5 years

23. When you figure out something in Raiser’s Edge

24. When you finally receive the big grant check in the mail

25. And of course, when you manage the donor database

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