A nonprofit manager receives applause from their team after giving a presentation.

What Is Nonprofit Management: Tips to Manage Organizations

Public Administration

Becoming involved in a nonprofit group or organization involves making a commitment to a cause or movement that aims to ultimately improve a community, a group, families, or individuals. For those with a deep passion for making a difference, managing a nonprofit organization may represent an appealing career choice.

Individuals who are wondering “what is nonprofit management?” can consider pursuing an online Master of Public Administration degree to begin their journey in the field.

Nonprofit Management at a Glance

The goal of a nonprofit organization involves 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 significant aspect of what nonprofit management is revolves around the leadership qualities of a nonprofit manager. Nonprofit management teams should be able to motivate volunteers and employees toward a unified goal. Being flexible and adaptable is essential, as many nonprofit organizations are composed of volunteers and do not have regular employees. Being able to establish order and organization with authority is a key aspect of nonprofit management. 

What Does a Nonprofit Manager Do?

This position typically creates and develops strategies to minimize operational costs and maximize fundraising. While seemingly similar to corporate management strategies, 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, and beyond—the role requires a diverse skill set for success.

Managers must have strong leadership capabilities to encourage those in the nonprofit to confidently meet specific goals. Nonprofit managers 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 are required to ensure managers can effectively deal with various operational and financial obligations.

Steps to Become a Nonprofit Manager

An advanced education and real-world experience are the cornerstones to a career in nonprofit management.

Step 1: Earn a Degree     

Typically, a bachelor’s degree is required to pursue a nonprofit managerial position. The degree can be in 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 Norwich University’s online Master of Public Administration offer a concentration in nonprofit management. The curriculum features courses such as nonprofit administration and nonprofit health care management, which are designed to enable students to explore the more intricate components of the career.

Step 2: Gain Experience            

Most managerial positions in the field require several years of experience. This may be achieved in numerous ways. Volunteering to assist with a special project or event, either within or outside of an organization, is a sound method for gaining initial experience and a better understanding of the nonprofit process. Working in an entry-level fundraising position with responsibilities for organizing campaigns and events can help develop skills and strategic thinking that are useful in acquiring a future managerial position.

Salary of a Nonprofit Manager

 According to the compensation website PayScale, the median annual salary for a nonprofit manager is approximately $52,400. This figure represents the median of a salary range that PayScale reports can span up to about $78,000.

Several factors may influence salary earnings. 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. 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 the position with those of public relations professionals and fundraising managers. The BLS projects a 9% job growth rate from 2019 to 2029 in these related fields. This is higher than the projected 4% average growth rate for overall U.S. employment during the same time period.

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 (MPA) 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 management career.

Norwich University’s dynamic online MPA program delivers relevant and applicable courses that empower students to make a positive impact in their work and in their communities. If you’ve been wondering what nonprofit management is, explore how earning an online Master of Public Administration degree from Norwich University can help prepare you for a nonprofit management role. 


Recommended Readings

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
Average Program Manager, Non-Profit Organization Salary, PayScale

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