Public Administration Careers: What Is Nonprofit Management?

Becoming involved in a nonprofit group or organization involves making a commitment to a cause or movement that aims to ultimately improve a community, group, or the life of a family or individual. For those with a deep passion for making a difference, managing a nonprofit organization may represent an appealing career choice. To help begin the journey in this field, take the time to read this article that focuses on what is nonprofit management .

Nonprofit Management at a Glance

The goal of a nonprofit organization is raising funds for a cause or providing service for a community or group. The primary function of nonprofit management is overseeing the processes that drive an organization toward those noble objectives. Numerous tasks collectively ensure optimal organizational operation such as directing the financial budget, managing personnel, and ensuring that any fundraising tactics and strategies remain compliant with government regulations.

A nonprofit manager also typically creates and develops strategies to minimize costs and maximize fundraising. While seemingly similar tactics to other management positions in traditional corporate settings, nonprofit strategies strive to produce as much funding as possible for an organization’s charitable focus as opposed to its own economic gain. Achieving this goal can produce substantial benefits for the individual, group, or community at the center of the nonprofit’s mission.

As the job of a nonprofit manager involves diverse responsibilities —guiding operations, provisioning services, fundraising, etc.— the role requires a diverse skillset for success. Managers must have strong leadership skills to encourage those within the nonprofit to confidently meet specific goals. They also must possess solid written and verbal communication skills to ensure every aspect of the fundraising process is explained clearly and without ambiguity. Additionally, organizational skills ensure managers can deal with various operational and financial obligations simultaneously.

Steps to Become a Nonprofit Manager

A post-secondary education and experience are the cornerstones to a career as a nonprofit manager.

Educational Requirements

Typically, a bachelor’s degree is required to pursue a nonprofit managerial position. The degree can stem from a number of undergraduate disciplines such as communication, public relations, English, or journalism. However, some positions require a master’s degree that demonstrates a heightened level of knowledge and skills.

Programs such as the Norwich University online Master of Public Administration offer a concentration in nonprofit management. The curriculum features courses such as nonprofit administration or nonprofit healthcare management, which are designed to enable students to explore the more intricate components of the career.

Gaining Experience

Most managerial positions in the field require several years of experience that is achieved in numerous ways. Volunteering to participate or help with a special project or event, either within or outside of an organization, is a good way to gain initial experience and better understand the nonprofit process. Working in an entry-level fundraising position with responsibilities for organizing campaigns and events can help individuals develop skills and strategic thinking useful in acquiring a managerial position later in their careers.

Salaries of a Nonprofit Manager

According to PayScale, the average annual salary for a nonprofit manager is approximately $50,450. This figure represents the median within a salary range that PayScale reports can span up to about $75,000.

Several factors may influence the salary of a nonprofit manager. For instance, those with an advanced degree or years of experience in a fundraising role may command a higher salary than those with just an undergraduate degree or limited experience. Job location also factors into pay as positions in major metropolitan cities may offer higher compensation than those in suburban or rural regions.

Future Job Growth for Nonprofit Managers

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t have a dedicated category for the nonprofit manager role; it associates it with that of a public relations manager. The BLS projects a 10% job growth rate in this field from 2016 to 2026. This is higher than the 7% growth rate for the average profession.

Play a Critical Role in Community Outreach

As the growth projections demonstrate, now is a great time for students to consider becoming a nonprofit manager—a role that combines business savvy and a passion to help others. Pursuing such a path can potentially lead to a deeply satisfying position that positively impacts other people’s lives.

Norwich University’s online Master of Public Administration program offers a comprehensive curriculum that equips students with a thorough understanding of fiscal, strategic, and organizational management concepts—essential elements that provide the foundation for pursuing a nonprofit managerial role.

Founded in 1819, Norwich University is the nation’s oldest private military college and a key leader in providing innovative educational opportunities. Its dynamic online programs deliver relevant and applicable curricula that enable students to make a positive impact in their work and in their communities.

Recommended Reading

An Overview of the Importance of Public Administration
Career Outlook: Public Administration
6 Elements of Public Administration


Six Skills that Transfer Well to Nonprofit Leadership Positions, The Bridgespan Group
10 Qualities of a Good Manager in a Nonprofit Organization, Houston Chronicle
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
How to Develop Yourself as a Nonprofit Leader, The Bridgespan Group
Master of Public Administration, Norwich University
Average Program Manager, Non-Profit Organization Salary, PayScale