We spend 1/3 of our lives in the office, which means a decent chunk of time is spent worrying about projects, deadlines and overly strict budgets. But what if the work you were doing was geared towards a good cause? How would that impact your happiness?

According to the Independent, people working in the non-profit sector are more satisfied with their jobs and lives – in other words, the more altruistic you are, your happiness increases. In fact, people working in the private sector would have to earn an extra £27,000 per year to have the same level of happiness as people working for charities or social enterprises.

Once you finish university, you have a whole range of paths available to you when it comes to your career. Here are 3 reasons why you should consider a job in a non-profit after graduation.

Girl working

1. It’s not your average 9-to-5

First, it’s worth noting that not all non-profits are charities. Non-profit organisations don’t rely exclusively on donations; they also have earned revenue, so they can be less reliant on donor funding. This can include museums, arts foundations, animal shelters and so forth. But what does that mean for graduates looking to break into the sector? It means skills like business development, finance, marketing and sales are highly sought after. You just need to be able to utilise these skills in the context of social good, this can be helpful if you also want to get some donor engagement or reach out to a fundraising organization.

Non-profits are also less likely to stick to traditional working hours. Although you may be asked to come into the office from 9-5, you’re likely to work longer hours when you’re launching campaigns or working on a big project. On the flip side, the sector as a whole tends to be a bit more flexible when it comes to working hours. There are more part-time positions and working-from-home options available and these organisations tend to be more accommodating of people who are still studying or thinking of starting a family.


2. You’re driven by a personal connection with the cause

Most candidates are drawn to charities because they speak to them on a personal level. The more you care about the issue, the more you’ll be driven to succeed. And when you work in non-profit, you’ll be surrounded by people who feel ‘called’ to be there and work hard to achieve a shared mission.

It’s actually quite common for people to spend a few years in different sectors (business, academia, public service, etc.) before realising they want to do something that aligns more with their passions. The diversity of experience is an amazing bonus because it provides a multitude of perspectives and ideas that can spark creativity. It also allows you to learn different practices you may have not thought of before.


3. The happiness factor

According to a research conducted by Gallup, 85% of workers admit to hating their jobs. When you’re unhappy at work, your emotional and physical health take a bit of a beating. It can lead to depression, anxiety, difficulty sleeping and even a greater chance of getting ill. But when the work you’re doing is more focused on helping others, you’re fueling the reward pathway in your brain known as the mesolimbic system. This releases a ‘feel-good’ buzz commonly referred to as a ‘helpers high.’ In other words, the more rewarding the work is, the more your body and mind will react positively to your working environment.

Now, we’re not saying that working in the non-profit sector isn’t stressful. There are likely to be long hours and less people to get the work done. But often, the ends justify the means and you are less put off by the work you’re doing because you know you’re working towards something good.

So how can you get started in the non-profit sector when you’ve just finished university? The best way to get your foot in the door is to start by volunteering. Spend a few hours a week working with a cause that means something to you so you can get a better idea of what it’s like to work in the sector. It also means you’ll be building valuable experience you can include on your CV when you’re finally ready to apply for a job.

This content was provided by CharityJob, the largest and most specialised job board for the charity and not-for-profit sector in the UK.

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