Do you know that following the 2008 economic recession, the total number of U.S. nonprofit jobs has grown by nearly 17%? That’s almost four times greater than for-profit businesses in the same timeframe. In Kentucky, the contrast is more stark – since 2008, the nonprofit sector has added 20% of jobs, compared to 3% of for-profit sector job growth[i]. Given the trend of an expanding nonprofit job market, it may be beneficial for you to consider nonprofit careers when evaluating your employment prospects.
In fact, you may have already been an important stakeholder of nonprofit organizations – perhaps you served as a volunteer in your community, donated second-hand goods, adopted a shelter animal, or been a member of your hiking club – these and many other activities in which you are involved contribute to the growth of the nonprofit sector and ultimately, a flourishing civil society.
A Vital Role in Society
Indeed, the nonprofit sector serves a vital role in society, covering a diverse range of institutions, organizations, and activities. Just to give you a sense of the diversity of nonprofit missions, nonprofit organizations can be art centers, animal shelters, colleges, hospitals, churches, international service organizations, and policy advocacy groups [ii]. The sector is unique in that it aims to address important societal needs that neither business nor government fulfills. Scholars studying nonprofits also refer to the sector as the “resilient sector[iii],”. The name given due to greater flexibility and ability to survive during crisis times. For example, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, recent evidence shows the sector’s impressive recovery, transition, and continued growth[iv].
Just as the nonprofit sector is diverse in its sizes, missions and purposes, and service provisions and beneficiaries, what you can do with a certificate or concentration in nonprofit is versatile. You will learn valuable knowledge of how to start and maintain a nonprofit organization, acquire and steward financial resources, and lead through uncertainty and challenges. Hopefully, you can build self-efficacy and find more meaning and color in life by learning about and interacting with nonprofits that are helpful to your local community and society. The skills, abilities, and knowledge you will gain from EKU’s nonprofit certificate or concentration are also transferrable to different sectors and policy areas. Some core competencies developed through an EKU nonprofit certificate include, but are not limited to:
- Recognize the diversity of activities and institutions that have come to be labeled nonprofit organizations in the United States
- Interpret the nonprofit sector through multiple, key intellectual disciplines and appreciate the contributions of nonprofits to democracy and civil society
- Think critically and engage in civil discourse in ways that provide positive accountability to the nonprofit sector
- Develop management and leadership skills through careful analyses of a diverse set of stakeholders and their interests and goals related to nonprofit organizations
By: Yinglin Ma, assistant professor, EKU Department of Government
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[iii] Salamon, L. M. (2003). The resilient sector: The state of nonprofit America. Brookings Institution Press.
[iv] Ohio Nonprofit COVID-19 Survey: A Report of Wave 3 Results. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=392514