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Practical Advice Looking for reliable details about NPOs (Non-profit organizations)

BarryW

SF Supporter
#1
I keep finding myself wishing I knew a better way to try to learn about NPOs. I am hoping that one or more of our site members know of some good detailed listings of the NPOs, and will see this thread. I live in the US, so NPOs that have a physical presence in the US are preferred, but I am not ruling out helping one that allows remote work from another country. Let me elaborate on what I am asking for.

In order to attempt to feel there is more meaning to my life, instead of as close to zero as possible without being zero maybe, one of my strategies I started taking seriously several years back was to stop working for companies that just want to make $$$$ (read: 99% of companies), and find a place that makes an impact in the world that I feel is good according to my rules/ethics/feelings/whatever. I have tried to research and find some off and on, but ran into problems.

I have found some sites that will list as many as several hundred that are active in one area, but have no information about each one. I went through one of these and tried looking up any that sounded potentially like something I would want to be a part of. However I couldn't find a suitable match. Part of the reason is that I found that often there just wasn't enough information on an organization's site (if I could even find one). Other sites have a little description about each organization, but list only 10 or 20 organizations, and I quickly go through it.

Ideally there is something out there which has not only a humongous list of NPOs but maybe is a categorized list, where you could see orgs that do different kinds of work. For instance there might be 'animals' or 'education' categories for groups that work with those topics.

If you know of anything remotely like what I am looking for, please let me know! Thanks in advance.
 
#2
Rather than looking for non-profits, and then seeing if you can work for them, you might want to look for non-profits that might hire you, then pick one that you like the best.

A search for "non-profit jobs" will turn up listings.
 

BarryW

SF Supporter
#3
May thanks you for your input.

It's been a long time since I tried that so I am trying that right now. Will let you know how it goes.
 

BarryW

SF Supporter
#6
I have been looking through NPO job listings but it has been slow (blame: depression). I plan to keep looking at it for the coming weeks at least to get a feel of what is out there.

Charity Village is exactly the type of site I was looking for. I think I found a site that serves a similar role for the USA. It is created by an NPO, 'Candid', that gathers information about NPOs (woah my brain). The link is below.

https://www.guidestar.org/NonprofitDirectory.aspx

I will dig through both avenues and hopefully find something. I appreciate your help.
 

Dark111

FORMER SF SUPPORTER
#7
A former colleague of mine got involved in a non-profit for a while some years back. He says he felt hopeful and positive going in but that all soon changed when he realized that the nonprofit world is home to some of the most ruthless and cold-hearted bastards he'd ever come across. Particularly when it comes to competing for funding. There are no friends among nonprofits and charities. Anyone involved higher up is a power hungry monster. Brutally competitive with each other, not just for funding but for clout and popularity with the public. Also of note was just how readily people were willing to sell out the cause or their beliefs for money. Everyone had a price. Lifetime community organizers making a living by taking funding from the most unethical sources imaginable.

If you ever meet someone that's spent years dedicated to a charitable or humanitarian cause, then you've probably met an unscrupulous a-hole. The exceptions are the genuinely kind volunteers who are relatively new. They last about 2 years, 3 if they're tough. But they eventually see the people running the show for the monsters they are, and leave, completely disillusioned.
 

BarryW

SF Supporter
#8
That's pretty depressing. If true, it would mean the only way to have remotely meaningful work would be to create my own organization - if I even have the talent for it.
 

Dark111

FORMER SF SUPPORTER
#9
That's pretty depressing. If true, it would mean the only way to have remotely meaningful work would be to create my own organization - if I even have the talent for it.
Don't sweat too much about talent, I always find if you've got the drive & the passion you very often figure out a lot of stuff as you go. Plus, I don't know your background, maybe you've already got all the expertise you need from your other endeavours and you just need to tailor them for a different project?
 
#10
Lifetime community organizers making a living by taking funding from the most unethical sources imaginable.
One issue might be that if even if you are going into the non-profit field for good reasons, if you're counting on this to pay the bills, it may shift your priorities.

There could also be people who go into it to scam people.

I'm not sure if it's all as bleak as that, but I think there's an ugly side.
 

BarryW

SF Supporter
#11
maybe you've already got all the expertise you need from your other endeavours and you just need to tailor them for a different project?
Maybe. Last year I spent some months detailing a business idea. However, I lost steam or wussed out or something, as I have barely touched it this year. I might get back to it in the future, or rather I hope to. It is a long term project though and would not have income for years even if I worked on it full time. As with all business ideas, I don't know whether I would break even. So I was thinking I would get a new job and then work on my business idea on the side if interest remains and I can summon the energy to do so. Historically I don't have energy for side projects while working, but maybe I can figure out how to do an hour a day without burning out.

Regarding NPOs and bad motivations, as long as I was far away from the people/processes that work with donations, funding, grants etc, and the NPO was continuously outputting a product or service that I feel was good, I think it would be OK. I would be up front about this and not join one that has a problem with this idea. I can live cheaply and don't need to make a billion dollars a year.
 

Dark111

FORMER SF SUPPORTER
#12
Maybe. Last year I spent some months detailing a business idea. However, I lost steam or wussed out or something, as I have barely touched it this year. I might get back to it in the future, or rather I hope to. It is a long term project though and would not have income for years even if I worked on it full time. As with all business ideas, I don't know whether I would break even. So I was thinking I would get a new job and then work on my business idea on the side if interest remains and I can summon the energy to do so. Historically I don't have energy for side projects while working, but maybe I can figure out how to do an hour a day without burning out.

Regarding NPOs and bad motivations, as long as I was far away from the people/processes that work with donations, funding, grants etc, and the NPO was continuously outputting a product or service that I feel was good, I think it would be OK. I would be up front about this and not join one that has a problem with this idea. I can live cheaply and don't need to make a billion dollars a year.
Building a business, a successful one, can take a gargantuan amount of time of commitment , as you well know. Might be worth checking out link below, assuming you haven't looked at this one already:

https://www.niu.edu/clas/nonprofit/careers/employment_resources.shtml
 

BarryW

SF Supporter
#13
Gargantuan is a great word choice here. I feel that depression and suicidal thoughts make it even harder to start, commit to, and follow through on such an undertaking. But in some ways, those conditions have also helped motivate me a little.

I've bookmarked the site you referenced and will take a look when I feel my next small burst of energy.
 

Dark111

FORMER SF SUPPORTER
#14
Gargantuan is a great word choice here. I feel that depression and suicidal thoughts make it even harder to start, commit to, and follow through on such an undertaking. But in some ways, those conditions have also helped motivate me a little.

I've bookmarked the site you referenced and will take a look when I feel my next small burst of energy.
Hope things come together for you, BarryW. Be well.
 

Lane

SF Supporter
#15
I keep finding myself wishing I knew a better way to try to learn about NPOs. I am hoping that one or more of our site members know of some good detailed listings of the NPOs, and will see this thread. I live in the US, so NPOs that have a physical presence in the US are preferred, but I am not ruling out helping one that allows remote work from another country. Let me elaborate on what I am asking for.

In order to attempt to feel there is more meaning to my life, instead of as close to zero as possible without being zero maybe, one of my strategies I started taking seriously several years back was to stop working for companies that just want to make $$$$ (read: 99% of companies), and find a place that makes an impact in the world that I feel is good according to my rules/ethics/feelings/whatever. I have tried to research and find some off and on, but ran into problems.

I have found some sites that will list as many as several hundred that are active in one area, but have no information about each one. I went through one of these and tried looking up any that sounded potentially like something I would want to be a part of. However I couldn't find a suitable match. Part of the reason is that I found that often there just wasn't enough information on an organization's site (if I could even find one). Other sites have a little description about each organization, but list only 10 or 20 organizations, and I quickly go through it.

Ideally there is something out there which has not only a humongous list of NPOs but maybe is a categorized list, where you could see orgs that do different kinds of work. For instance there might be 'animals' or 'education' categories for groups that work with those topics.

If you know of anything remotely like what I am looking for, please let me know! Thanks in advance.
https://www.unitedway.org/contact-us

They have served as a clearinghouse for places for people to volunteer in their communities in the past. I went to the link and if you scroll down there's a place where you can click on organizations, NPR's in your area.
 

Lane

SF Supporter
#16
A former colleague of mine got involved in a non-profit for a while some years back. He says he felt hopeful and positive going in but that all soon changed when he realized that the nonprofit world is home to some of the most ruthless and cold-hearted bastards he'd ever come across. Particularly when it comes to competing for funding. There are no friends among nonprofits and charities. Anyone involved higher up is a power hungry monster. Brutally competitive with each other, not just for funding but for clout and popularity with the public. Also of note was just how readily people were willing to sell out the cause or their beliefs for money. Everyone had a price. Lifetime community organizers making a living by taking funding from the most unethical sources imaginable.

If you ever meet someone that's spent years dedicated to a charitable or humanitarian cause, then you've probably met an unscrupulous a-hole. The exceptions are the genuinely kind volunteers who are relatively new. They last about 2 years, 3 if they're tough. But they eventually see the people running the show for the monsters they are, and leave, completely disillusioned.
I know one woman that started an art outreach center. She went without a salary for a few years (of course she had a husband to rely on). Not everyone has that back up. But anyway, she started small and eventually through fundraising ran a summer art camp, inter generational programs out of an amazing spot. A good portion was offered to underpriveledged youth. I had the good fortune of assisting her years ago and turned down an internship at NBC to do this. My college (what are they called) advisor...was pissed, when I accepted. Ah well. It was a look into the world of begging for money from wealthy corporations, ha. Grant writing. But the work itself was really cool, dealing with the brochures and community (yes pre web 🤤).
 

BarryW

SF Supporter
#17
Lane,
I am taking a look at the united way site for my area. Thanks for that.
Glad that you were able to have a positive experience in that world.
 

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