What I’ve Learned Working for a Nonprofit for a Month

This past month has been exhausting, eye-opening, exhilarating, and (I guess lots of words starting with “e”) exciting. For those of you who don’t know, I got hired at a Christian non-profit that exists to fight human trafficking. I have been trying to figure out my routine and it’s caused me to be a little MIA. For that I apologize, but I have been trying to take it all in and soak it all up like a sponge.

I have learned so much working for Rescue Her, about nonprofits, funding, human trafficking in the DFW area, and working 9-5 in general. I think there is so much that we don’t realize goes into nonprofits doing what they’ve set out to do. It has been so eye-opening to me and I wanted to share with you what I’ve learned so far.

What I've Learned Working for a Nonprofit for a month

Funding is SO important.

I’ll go ahead and get the uncomfortable topic out of the way, funding. We could not do what we do without your support financially. You don’t realize how essential it is until you’re in it. When you work for a company, you are more guaranteed your salary, where as for us, we have no guarantee. We literally could not make the impact we’re making with your support financially. Working here has made me regret the many opportunities I didn’t take to support local nonprofits, or nonprofits I believed in, more.

Volunteers are crucial.

Not all nonprofits need volunteers and I understand that. Yet again, we could NOT do anything without our volunteers. Our staff is only 4 people and 3 interns, who aren’t here everyday all day. We need all the help we can get if we really want to make an impact. I never understood that volunteers aren’t just an add-on, they are a crucial part of making what we do happen. I have utilized volunteers since the day I started working, especially considering that’s what my job is. I am the Outreach Coordinator, which means I am over our outreaches and volunteers. So you can trust my word for it when I say how needed volunteers are. So if you have been thinking about volunteering someone and haven’t made that move yet, DO IT! They need you.

Nonprofit work is NO joke.

I started working for Rescue Her right when our 5K was about to happen, 2 weeks before to be exact. I have never done so much hard work in my life. I was heavy lifting, which is not my forte I’m sure you can assume. I did things I never knew would be in my job description when I started working for a nonprofit. It was late nights, long days, sore muscles, and lots of coffee. Don’t ever underestimate the hard work that goes behind everything nonprofits do, because it’s legit. AND we have no males on staff with us, so women power, am I right?! It’s hard, it’s real, and it’s exhausting. We do it for a cause and that’s what makes it worth it.

Non-profit work isn’t a 9-5.

Even though I work a 9-5 schedule when it comes to my salary, when you work for a nonprofit your hours are never only a 9-5. That is something I knew going into it but didn’t fully understand. We work some nights, some weekends, we have staff that are always on call, we are constantly assessing and seeking out information, and it’s so easy to always be thinking in the work mindset when you work for a nonprofit. This is especially evident when you work for a nonprofit like mine that is so emotionally demanding. It’s hard to get your mind off at times.

When you have a small staff, your co-workers make or break it

Regardless of how much you love your job and what you’re doing, when you’re sharing an office with 2, sometimes 3, individuals a lot weighs on who those individuals are. Lucky for me, I’m working for a Christian organization, so all my co-workers believe the same as me which is a GAME CHANGER. I love being able to talk openly about my faith, we pray before every staff meeting, we have conversations about the Bible and what God has been speaking to us, and the vibe is full of grace, yet professional. Second to that, they are just really great women and I have really enjoyed getting to know them and learn from them. I could not imagine working in such close quarters and enjoying it if I didn’t like my coworkers. Many nonprofits are smaller staffed and so the people you’re surrounded with all day really do have the power to make it or break it. Especially when you think about how we are better together!

Work is the most rewarding when you really care about what you’re doing

This past month has been so rewarding for me. I have been passionate about this epidemic for so long and it’s amazing to actually be working for an organization fighting it. I go to work with purpose each and every day. It makes the exhaustion, long commute, late nights and long days worth it. I know that I am making an impact in something I really care about every single day I go to work. That goes for any job, whether it’s teaching, retail, construction, whatever it may be as long as YOU believe in and care about what you’re doing. That’s what makes it feel less like a job.

Overall, I have learned so much from this past month and I have appreciated sleep more than ever before, as well as coffee. If you have any questions about non-profits, Christian workplace life, or anything else similar, feel free to comment below or click my email link! I’d love to chat with you!

If you’re wondering what you can do to help fight human trafficking, check out my post from January: Human Trafficking Awareness Month: How Can I Help?

7 thoughts on “What I’ve Learned Working for a Nonprofit for a Month

  1. I completely understand where you’re coming with the importance of a strong staff and wonderful volunteers. We partner with so many non-profits every year, so it’s helpful to get a little more insight on their structure and needs. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  2. YES, I know from experience that nonprofit work is no joke. Thanks for sharing your experience!
    Denise // TheElleAesthetic.com

  3. I worked for a non-profit for 2 years, and it was the best experience. I completely agree that liking your coworkers and feeling like your work is making a difference are HUGE when it comes to handling the stress of long hours and sleepless nights of worry. I’m self-employed now, but I do miss working for them.

  4. I feel like you always know that non-profit work is so hard (in theory) but it’s such a nice reminder how serious and hard it really is. And how selfless the people are that work there. This is such a great reminder that I should always be one the volunteers even if I cannot dedicate all my time. Thank you!

  5. You are 100% right on all of those! I worked for multiple nonprofits before becoming a SAHM and the work is exhausting, never-ending, and absolutely rewarding. Congrats to you for such an amazing opportunity. Fighting human trafficking needs all the help (and volunteers) it can get. Wishing you the very best and I look forward to learning more about Rescue Her.

  6. I love this! You’re right about everything – from it being no joke, to the “women power, am I right?!: piece. But in addition to everything, nonprofit work can offer such a rewarding career – and there are so many different kinds, that the sector is bound to have something for everyone.

    And I second your point about volunteers – we really do need you! For anyone who’s not sure where to start, try to first figure out which type of volunteering resonates most. Here are 6 different categories to give some ideas: http://employedforgood.com/6-different-ways-to-volunteer-give-back

    Take care!

  7. I used to work for a nonprofit combating human trafficking, and I learned so much in the process. Before I started working there, I didn’t know that the area where I lived had so many victims of human trafficking.

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