Why Non-Profits Need Us
For many of us, it’s graduate season. We’ve spent the past few years building our knowledge, soft skills for use in the real world, and now it’s time to aim big. Whether it is MBB firms, the Big 4 or any distinguished employers in our field of interest, the competition is high as ever.
Yet, these employers all have one thing in common – they are for-profit. In this sector, we expect to apply everything we have learned to increase sales, market share and profitability for businesses who serve a commercial need. The objectives of which lie upon an obsession fueled by growth, and our default mindset is that this is where our business skills are best put to use.
But in your job search, have you considered the non-profit sector? It makes sense if you haven’t. Our learning is in the context of commerce: case studies, industry connections and textbooks are mostly based around big commercial brands and for-profit firms. This relates to a broader social problem about the perception of charities; donors are ingrained to feel that charities who spend too much on business administration and marketing activities are untrustworthy and ineffective at addressing their cause.
We are conditioned to believe that charities should spend almost all of their funds on solving social issues, and next to nothing on business growth and that most of its revenue comes from donations.
However, the truth is quite the opposite.
If for-profit businesses invest in growth can be successful in achieving their goal, why can’t charities? Non-profits such as The Red Cross, Oxfam and Save The Children operate with a for-profit attitude, constantly engaging in marketing activities and remunerating well to attract top talent, and they have influenced millions of lives.
As some of the brightest minds in Australia, we should direct our expertise in growth to a sector that needs it. We’re not saying, don’t give up your dream to be a management consultant or brand manager, but consider consulting for charities or managing the brand of a social enterprise and you might be pleasantly surprised at how enriched you can be and the talent you meet whilst working on projects. Even if you just help out while as a student, your fresh business perspective can go a long way.
I recently worked on a project in Shanghai as part of the Global Management Consulting program with the non-profit arm of a local hospital. Our team’s strategic business thinking, from marketing to accounting, was integral to providing a robust strategic direction that would resonate with donors.
And if you aren’t convinced yet, remember the end result. You can use what you’ve learned to impact real lives and solve the underserved problems in our society. I know that this was the highlight of my experience in Shanghai.
See Dan Pallotta’s TED talk here: https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pallotta_the_way_we_think_about_charity_is_dead_wrong