Top 10 reasons to be a nonprofit executive director

10 You always wondered what NPO stood for. And now you get to be part of the fastest growing sector of the U.S. economy. According to The Nonprofit Almanac 2008, published by Urban Institute Press, the sector’s role in the economy has expanded by most key measures since 1998. It employs more people, draws in more revenue, and contributes more to the gross domestic product than a decade ago. Climb on board!

9 It’s where the money is. OK, you won’t make an easy million, but with over $300 billion in philanthropy given away annually by individuals, foundations and corporations, the nonprofit sector is a significant part of the U.S. economy. Keep the small change.

8 You get to have “.org” at the end of your email. And if you’re really on top of it, you’ll join with leading edge nonprofits that are leveraging the power of the internet for social marketing, friend-raising and philanthropy. Twitter on, folks.

7 Free hors d’oeuvres provided at many networking events. Relationships are essential to nonprofit success. Take your love of parties (and catered food) to the next level and develop collaborations, partnerships and connections to strengthen your organization. Cheers!

6 You didn’t get enough wrangling in your annual dude ranch vacations. Now you can bring those skills to bear with your board, volunteers, staff, donors and constituents. Where else can you have so many diverse groups vying for your attention?

5 It sounds cools to talk about double and triple bottom lines. Profit is so passé. You get to talk about being financially sound while also having a social impact and contributing to an environmentally sustainable world. How cool is that?

4 Tax forms weren’t interesting enough. Now that electronic filing has simplified your personal taxes, you’re ready to ramp it up and figure out the new 990 tax forms for nonprofit organizations that went into effect in 2009. Make tax day exciting again!

3 You wanted to be a juggler, but career paths were limited. You’ll get to apply those hard-earned skills every day in your job as ED. Who said running off to the circus didn’t lead anywhere?

2 People give you stuff. Mary meets Jose, Jose works for a local nonprofit, Mary is impressed, Jose asks Mary to help out, Mary gives Jose a big check. Mary’s check makes a difference in someone’s life. Now that’s a good use of “stuff.”

1 You get to change the world. Enough said.

by Wendy Longwood, JVA Consulting’s Vice-President of Client Services, and a former nonprofit executive director.

To learn more about JVA’s upcoming training for executive directors, go to


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