10 MYTHS ABOUT NON-PROFIT CAREERS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
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
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