What exactly are nonprofits and NGOs?

I often get asked about my specific job responsibilities as a Career Intern at the UConn Center for Career Development. I usually talk about resume critiques and presentations, but I also always mention my other role as a member of the Careers for the Common Good team. That’s when I get the blank stares followed by, “what’s that?” I tell them all about how Careers for the Common Good (CCG) are socially responsible vocations, whose results benefit the greater good of society. “Oh I get it. So like nonprofits?” Yes, like nonprofits, but that is just one facet of CCG careers. There are also a host of other socially responsible vocations including Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Public Sector jobs and social enterprises. To understand the scope of CCG and the types of Common Good careers that are available, it is important to know what CCG encompasses.

The largest type of Common Good Career is the nonprofit. Nonprofit organizations are uses its additional revenue to further the mission or goals of the organization. Most people think of charities when they hear nonprofits, but that is just one type. Foundations, research organizations, religious groups, community organizations, even hospitals and universities can be considered a nonprofit. They can also be locally, nationally or internationally focused. They can also be locally, nationally or internationally focused. Nonprofits can range in size from 1 person to an office of thousands and can include jobs in anything from IT to research, fundraising and everything in between. Idealist.org is a great online resource to find jobs or internships in the nonprofit field, or even just to see some of the different types of nonprofit organizations that are out there.

Many use the terms nonprofit and nongovernmental organization interchangeably and the difference can be hard to define. Similarly to a nonprofit, a nongovernmental organization is a not-for-profit organization that is neither a government nor a business, and often times an NGO is a type of nonprofit. An NGO can be a charity, a tax exempt organization or an organization that focuses on political and/or religious ideologies-such as a lobbyist firm. They also are usually dedicated to one cause such as climate change or the eradication of cancer. There are many types of jobs available at NGOs and websites such as DevNetJobs.org is a good place to start if you are interested in this field.

The Public Sector is a different aspect of CCG. Public Aspect refers to government services that benefit all citizens and can be local, state or national. There are thousands of jobs available in the public sector is almost any field imaginable from nuclear engineering, to art conservation or zoology. For federal jobs, usajobs.gov is the primary job board used by the government. Individual states or towns will have jobs posted on their own websites.

Social enterprises are a slightly different take on common good organizations. A social enterprise is that uses business principals to improve human or environment wellbeing. They can be either nonprofit or for profit. Though they are motivated by profit, they invest the profit back into the mission of the organization or use it to incentivize workers, community or social investors in a way that does not hinder the mission of the organization. If you are interested in exploring possible careers in social enterprises, Indeed.com is good place to start.