Achieve Your Potential
News and Notes

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Passion as Plan

What's your work passion? 

For some it’s about attaining financial or personal status goals—sometimes specific goals set as far back as elementary school. Others champion making a difference over such specific goals. Many of these individuals have found a home for their career passion in the nonprofit sector.

It may surprise you that the growth rate of the nonprofit sector has surpassed the business and government sectors. This is no statistical trick; nonprofits employ more than 13.5 million people in the U.S., which makes it the third largest industry after retail trade and manufacturing. In 2010, it contributed more than $779 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product.

Nonprofit organizations create jobs for executives and managers, educators and artists, accountants and marketers and so much more. What is it that draws people to this sector? There’s no single motivating reason, but what you’ll hear time and time again is remarks like this:

“I want to make a difference.” 
“I want to work for a cause I believe in.” 
“I want to feel involved.”
“I want to feel passionate about my work.” 

Nonprofits are built to serve groups and meet needs not being cared for by existing markets or within the government sector. In essence, these organizations are built on and fueled by passion. “At the end of the day,” writes Carol Tice of Experience™, “nonprofit entrepreneurs say they're hooked on the satisfaction that comes from knowing their efforts improve the world.”

There are a lot of common misconceptions about the nonprofit sector—namely that making money is frowned upon. The difference is the money comes from different sources than for-profits, and success may be measured differently. It’s also a mistake to believe the common myth that nonprofits are an employee catchall—that there aren’t high hiring standards. The contrary is true: nonprofits have limited resources for hiring and retaining their staff; and poor hiring choices can be costly.

Nonprofits employ so much more than social workers and grant writers. Think: scientists, computer programmers, engineers, researchers, carpenters and other skilled workers. Nonprofits are also winning when it comes to gender parity: Mary Brainerd, CEO of HealthPartners; Kathryn Correia at HealthEast; Becky Roloff at the YWCA; Olga Viso at the Walker Art Center; and Sandra Vargas at the Minneapolis Foundation. And this is just a small sampling of women in positions of power within nonprofits.

The numbers don’t lie—1.5 million nonprofit organizations; one in 13 people employed by a nonprofit; $1.5 trillion in spending. Nonprofits pack a big punch. And thanks to the talented, passionate individuals behind them, they’re thriving.

There are many types of passion, and there are many modes of measuring success. If you're an individual motivated by specific achievements, such as financial goals, your career path may likely lead you into the private sector. If your passions are predominately inspired by causes you want to further, you may likely find a home in the nonprofit sector. Not sure? Look forward to an upcoming Leadership Survey that can help you hone in on your passion. We'll be sharing more details shortly.

JD Coaching & Consulting has extensive experience working with nonprofit organizations and their leadership. Jodi Davis brings her passion for realizing potential specifically to her body of work designed for developing nonprofit boards. An organization’s board sets the foundation for the success of the entity it serves by taking on the considerable responsibility to safeguard its mission, vision and assets. Are you ready to harness your passion and achieve full potential? Let’s keep the conversation going.

Ann Harrington, “MN's Women Executives Are In Good Company,” Twin Cities Business.  
Carol Tice, “Make A Difference: If You're Passionate About A Cause, Why Not Start A Nonprofit?” Experience™.  
Paul Schmitz, “Look to Nonprofit Sector to Create Jobs,” CNN. 
Johns Hopkins Nonprofit Employment Data Project
“Nonprofits,” Urban Institute

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