Like most myths, the ones about the non-profit sec­tor also stem from prej­u­dice rather than fact. The non-profit sec­tor of to­day hardly re­sem­bles the non-profit sec­tor of 5, 10, or 15 years ago. With each pass­ing day, the sec­tor be­comes more and more compe

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Like most myths, the ones about the non-profit sec­tor also stem from prej­u­dice rather than fact.

Myth #1: Non-prof­its are laid back, less pro­fes­sional, and less rig­or­ous

Truth: There are cer­tainly non-prof­its that fit this stereo­type, but so do some of the for-profit busi­nesses. Many non-prof­its are fast-paced, de­mand­ing, and dis­ci­plined; in fact, there's a grow­ing move­ment in that di­rec­tion. Busi­ness peo­ple are of­ten sur­prised to learn how dif­fi­cult it is to make the tran­si­tion into the non-profit sec­tor which has dif­fer­ent, of­ten rig­or­ous, stan­dards of suc­cess. Ac­cord­ing to the Bayt.com ‘ Work­ing for Non-profit Or­ga­ni­za­tions in the MENA' poll, May 2014, 92% of pro­fes­sion­als in the re­gion feel that peo­ple work­ing for a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion are more ‘mis­sion-driven' than those who work in other sec­tors.

Myth #2: Non-prof­its are for peo­ple who could not make it in the busi­ness world

Truth: Non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tions are full of in­tel­li­gent peo­ple with a pas­sion for their work, many with grad­u­ate de­grees and years of ex­pe­ri­ence in the sec­tor. While many pro­fes­sion­als switch be­tween the non-profit, govern­ment, and pri­vate sec­tors dur­ing their ca­reers, each line of work presents its own set of chal­lenges. Switch­ing from for-profit in­dus­try to the non-profit sec­tor is be­com­ing a grow­ing trend and a ca­reer as­pi­ra­tion for many in the Mid­dle East and North Africa re­gion. In fact, 48% of MENA pro­fes­sion­als would love to work for a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion (as per the Bayt.com ‘ Work­ing for Non-profit Or­ga­ni­za­tions in the MENA' poll).

Myth #3: Work­ing for a non-profit is not re­ally a ca­reer path

Truth: Work­ing in the non-profit sec­tor can some­times be seen as tak­ing a break from the ‘real world', with the im­plied as­sump­tion that it is not an op­tion to spend a life­time do­ing this work. In re­al­ity, the non-profit sec­tor pro­vides many peo­ple with a life­time of ex­cit­ing work. Non-prof­its also tend to of­fer young peo­ple more lead­er­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties than other sec­tors. Many non-prof­its of­fer solid ca­reer paths and op­por­tu­ni­ties for ad­vance­ment. Ac­cord­ing to the Bayt.com ‘ Work­ing for Non-profit Or­ga­ni­za­tions in the MENA' poll, 53% of pro­fes­sion­als in the MENA feel that ca­reer-ori­ented peo­ple can have sat­is­fy­ing ca­reers work­ing for non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Myth #4: The non-profit sec­tor is not com­pet­i­tive

Truth: In a world of lim­ited re­sources, non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tions com­pete in­tensely for the pub­lic's at­ten­tion, recog­ni­tion, fund­ing, and other re­sources. This com­pet­i­tive­ness usu­ally tran­scends the en­tire

or­gan­i­sa­tion and em­ploy­ees be­come cat­a­lysts of change in a highly com­pet­i­tive work­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

Myth #5: Non-profit work is not chal­leng­ing

Truth: Ask any­one in a non-profit if their work is easy, and they will likely laugh – and for good rea­son. Not only is their work dif­fi­cult; many would ar­gue that it could be much more chal­leng­ing than work­ing in the for-profit sec­tor. Em­ploy­ees in non-prof­its are of­ten asked to do more with less, and in shorter pe­ri­ods of time, while keep­ing more peo­ple happy than their for-profit coun­ter­parts. The re­sults of this hard work are of­ten in­tan­gi­ble. When it comes to salaries and ben­e­fits, the same sur­vey re­veals that 78% of MENA pro­fes­sion­als con­sider salaries in the non-profit sec­tor to be less at­trac­tive than in other sec­tors, while 79% feel that non-prof­its of­fer less perks and ben­e­fits than other com­pa­nies.

Myth #6: Non-prof­its are in­ef­fi­cient

Truth: Non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tions do not have clear bot­tom lines or profit mar­gins. Serv­ing a hu­man or en­vi­ron­men­tal need makes suc­cess and ef­fi­ciency much more dif­fi­cult to mea­sure. Add to that the re­al­ity of lim­ited re­sources and an em­pha­sis on serv­ing clients, and it be­comes clear why the sec­tor is of­ten per­ceived as in­ef­fi­cient. There are cer­tainly some in­ef­fi­cient and dis­or­gan­ised non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tions, just as we see plenty of dys­func­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions in the pri­vate sec­tor. In both cases, this is not nec­es­sar­ily a re­flec­tion on the sec­tor as a whole.

Myth #7: Non-profit jobs are se­cure

Truth: One of the big­gest myths re­lated to non-profit ca­reers is that they're ‘safe' ca­reers. Those non-prof­its also have some great back­ers. A non-profit job is like any other. If a fun­der pulls their fund­ing out, that non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion is fin­ished. Just like ev­ery busi­ness, it all de­pends on where the money is com­ing from. Ac­cord­ing to the Bayt.com ‘ Work­ing for Non-profit Or­ga­ni­za­tions in the MENA' poll, 75% of MENA pro­fes­sion­als be­lieve that job se­cu­rity is lower in the non-profit sec­tor. More­over, 74% say that there are few to no op­por­tu­ni­ties to find em­ploy­ment with a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion in their coun­try of res­i­dence.

Myth #8: Non-prof­its are all the same

Truth: Non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tions are as dif­fer­ent from one another as for-profit com­pa­nies are. Be­yond the ob­vi­ous dif­fer­ences of mis­sion and fo­cus, key dif­fer­ences to note in non-prof­its in­clude size, age, out­look, busi­ness model, and by­laws. From struc­ture, to fundrais­ing model, to mis­sion, to peo­ple served, non-prof­its are widely di­verse.

Myth #9: Non-profit em­ploy­ees have bet­ter work-life bal­ance

Truth: There are some non-prof­its that pro­mote work-life bal­ance for their em­ploy­ees, just like there are some for-prof­its that do. But there are also non-prof­its where long hours are the norm, par­tic­u­larly since what's at stake can be so im­por­tant. In­deed, 52.3% of re­spon­dents to the Bayt. com ‘Work­ing for Non-profit Or­ga­ni­za­tions in the MENA' poll be­lieve that work­ing for a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion means sac­ri­fic­ing more of your health and fam­ily time.

Myth #10: Work­ing for a non-profit is just like vol­un­teer­ing

Truth: Many non-prof­its rely on vol­un­teers, es­pe­cially in di­rect ser­vices. Vol­un­teers, how­ever, are of­ten shielded from the or­gan­i­sa­tional and fi­nan­cial chal­lenges with which the ac­tual em­ploy­ees must con­tend. Some or­gan­i­sa­tions also em­ploy vol­un­teers in ad­di­tion to their paid staff, but many don't use vol­un­teer help at all, pre­fer­ring in­stead the ac­count­abil­ity of paid full-timers. This is why most non-prof­its are staffed by paid pro­fes­sional staff

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