Tips for the Nonprofit Employee Newbie

Recently, I began a new adventure in the nonprofit world. I accepted a job in one of my home states, North Carolina, and began a new chapter as a young nonprofit professional.

Its been roughly 3 months now. I’ve had just enough time to feel polished and not enough to still feel overwhelmed. More importantly, all of this is still fresh in my mind!

Thus, this post of explaining how you as a new nonprofit employee (young or old) should take the first few months on the chin! I am kidding! So here’s a fun little guide to help you smooth your transition over.

  • Be familiar with all your organization’s chess pieces – Most nonprofits are just the staff in the office you are working out of. Many have affiliates, branches, cohorts, or partners that they regularly interact with about vital things. Make sure you ask “who is that and what role do they play in furthering our mission?”
  • They hired YOU to be YOU – They didn’t hire someone else, even though they could have. So make sure you give them what they bargained for! Do you like to decorate your space in toys? Great, do it! Do you like to send emails instead of walking around the office looking for someone? Perfect, do it!
  • Get to know that person your back is towards 8 hours a day – Or who you rarely see their face of because you both are always buried in your Mac/PC the whole day. And the only time you talk is when work must get done before 5pm! Make an effort to get to know your coworkers. Because really, in what other sector will you instantly have something IN COMMON with them all? That’s right you are all here on the same mission, whatever your nonprofit’s cause is.
  • I’ve never heard of your organization… – We’ve all heard this a million times when we try to get somebody to donate or volunteer to a cause we hold dear. But now you get paid to support this cause, so take every chance to know more about it! And the sooner the better. The more knowledgable you feel about your organization’s history, mission, and success, the more confident you will be in promoting it after work and accomplishing goals.
  • Get your hand caught in the “cookie jar” of good karma – Sure you are new there, but that does not mean you have nothing to offer co-workers that are in a jam whether at work or at home. Help them out! Offer some advice, perhaps a friendly cup of coffee when you’re on your way to get yours, or just listen to their ideas. And when the time comes for you to ask for help  – and trust me that time will come – they’ll be happy to help you out.

In full disclosure this post was partially inspired by the great Allison Jones over at and her post on Making the Most Out of an Entry Level Job. But these are my things that I found to be true, so no hijacking of the material, I swear!

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