More evidence on the competitiveness of charity jobs



Here’s a short report, “Charities: Passion and skills in aid of a good cause,” on changes in the nonprofit sector’s employment landscape. The report provides evidence of increased competition over jobs, which is attributed to strong interest among recent graduates, greater professionalization across the sector, higher salaries, and an increase in the number of business people switching into nonprofit positions.

The report was published in 2008 by the Financial Times, but our sense is that the trends described have likely continued. The report features excerpts from an interview with a recruiter specialising in nonprofit careers.


Key points from the report include:

  1. The charitable sector continues to become more professionalized and focused on efficiency, which coincides with increased competition over jobs.

  2. Charities increasingly rely on well-trained staff members over passionate volunteers.

  3. The report highlights four factors that appear to drive an increase in competitiveness over jobs:

    • The nonprofit sector enjoys strong interest from recent graduates. Hundreds of applicants may apply for a single position.
    • Professionalization has raised the bar on the skills and experience expected of new hires.
    • Salaries have increased to attract individuals with greater levels of skills and experience.
    • At more senior levels, increasing numbers of business people are applying for nonprofit jobs. Charities have a bigger pool from which to recruit senior staff.
  4. Many job applicants hold graduate degrees, often from prestigious universities.

  5. Graduates often need to start at the bottom and work their way up. This can be difficult for idealistic students who want to make an immediate impact with their careers.

  6. The charitable sector may underinvest in training and professional development when budgets are tight. The sector risks leadership gaps as baby boomers retire, but several organizations have developed innovative programs to prepare future organizational leaders.