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I would like to work for a non-profit organization. What degree would I need?

I am interested in working with organizations that focus on Rape and Child molestation awareness,out reach, and patient services. I would like to work in the field like going to schools, setting up fund raising events with the public and over all getting the organizations message out there. I am currently still in the process of getting all my AA degree classes out of the way. What degree should I major in so I will be qualified for this type of position?And what colleges would you recommend? what classes should I include while at a community college. I live in Montclair, Ca. I would like to stay close to home.

Thanks for your time!

nonprofit-organization nonprofits nonprofit-management women-in-business child-welfare empowering-women sexual-assault-awareness community-outreach fundraising cultural-awareness public-safety

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Maria’s Answer

Marie, wow! You are an inspiration.

Congratulations on pursing your AA degree.

I've worked in nonprofits as a marketer and fundraiser for most of my 14 year career, focused on youth and education.

I majored in Sociology (the study of the development, structure, and functioning of human society. The study of social problems) and Communications in College.

Sociology helped me understand why social problems exist. Why humans act the way they do.

Communications courses helped me with public speaking, communicating to various audiences (verbal and written communications), and how to influence people through your communication.

I wish I had also taken more Economics, computer science and marketing courses too.

I'm not as familiar with colleges, but here are a few in your area:,,

Good luck and know that other survivors stand with you and those you hope to serve.

Thoughtful response, Maria, and amazing to see how your current work relates to/draws on your college studies. Olivia Khalili

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Mary’s Answer

Hi Marie, good for you for seeking out this info to plan careful steps toward the work you want. Ollie's answer was so good and thorough I have little to add to that advice. I will say that my path into non-profit work that I loved was perhaps atypical, but maybe in one way my experience still parallels how things work these days. (I was not a far-sighted planner like you!) I was an English major whose foot in the door was based on old-fashioned secretarial skills. But as soon as I demonstrated that I was a hard worker willing to do anything, and that I could write and speak well with constituents, I began to be promoted. This was in a medium-sized (100-ish employees) organization.
At the 4-year mark, I got my third promotion into my hiring boss' job when he left. During years 4-7, I earned a relevant advanced degree (J.D.) by going to night school, and on that basis, in years 7 & 8 I got successive promotions into the top management tier. My point is that advancement resulted from the combination of experience and appropriate formal education credentials. I don't know what it's like now to come out of school with a B.A. in social sciences and go job-hunting with that, but my guess is that a skill set that includes social media and the usual office suite of computer applications will help to make you an appealing candidate and a productive employee right off the bat. Not a bad idea to get some work experience (and insights into what you like and don't like) while you're deciding which advanced degree to pursue - and you're earning money to help pay for it. Good luck with everything!
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Ollie’s Answer

I've worked in nonprofit orgs, so I have a view towards this.

Good for you for figuring out how to prepare to do this work. It's important work, and not enough people are doing it.

There are two parts of any successful org. One is development (fundraising, grant-application writing, and contracting to provide services for governments and other orgs). It's business with a heart. For that work you'll need accounting and marketing skills and the gift of gab to deal with donors and grantors. You'll need some human-resources skills as well. If the org you serve contracts with governments, you'll also need to do collections: to get them to pay on time.

The other part of an org is generically referred to as "program." In your chosen field, the people you serve are vulnerable and in serious crisis. They're both survivors and victims of violent crimes. The people who serve them will need plenty of skill and also diligent peer supervision. In other words, it's demanding work and the people doing it need to take care of each other as well as their clients. They need the gifts of listening, caring, and advocating. And they need to be able to use those gifts for clients without burning themselves out.

Many of these people are licensed social workers and psychologists, with a physician or psychiatrist helping out. There may also be somebody with a background in law enforcement like a retired police officer, or maybe a lawyer. Those licensed people serve clients, and also serve as mentors to people working toward licensure.

If you're joining a small org, you'll probably need both kinds of skills.

The work you mention in your question is generically called "outreach." It's partly "program" and partly "development." It takes a fairly large org to have people whose primary job is outreach, so you'll probably need to do some other things as well.

If you want to concentrate on development, take business, marketing, psychology, and sociology classes.

If you're interested in program work. It might be wise to look for college classes in psychology and social work. You are on a career track that will eventually require a Master of Social Work degree, or maybe a psychology doctorate.

I strongly recommend you get in touch with an org that does this work in your area. Where I live, it's called the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center. But your area has such an org too. Ask for a half-hour with somebody in charge, like the executive director, to get advice. Don't hesitate to ask for this: almost everybody in this field is delighted to give people like you a little time to help you along. And, you may be able to get an internship or volunteer position at the org . That will help you understand the nuances of getting the right training.

Again, good for you, and all the best.

UCLA trains a lot of people for helping professions. Ollie Jones

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Wayne’s Answer

Hello, the best way to travel a happy trail during your career journey is a degree {BA} in Marketing, with classes in non-profits, social networking, and marketing, community services type classes, also a couple of coding and other computer science base classes. With this combo, you shall be ready for a career working with non-profits. One class which is not given is a life class of caring for those who need it a little more, good luck and remember love what you do and you shall be happy and successful.
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Carole Sams’s Answer

There are actually so many ways you can enter the field as a Development/advancement officer in Non Profit. Only recently have schools added non profit management tracks in their business management programs. Non Profits are looking for organized, empathetic, enthusiastic and passionate people. Think about your organziational skills and what classes will strengthen these. Accounting for instance will help you with budget management. My degrees, for instance, were in Organziational Theory - how do people work well together. I also had a lot of event experience volunteering for different groups and working in the food industry catering. All of these things contributed to my success as a fundraising officer. I then took that experience into the for profit world as a marketing event manager.

So think about how you work, not just the degree name on your resume.