If you consider yourself a modern ambitious professional, chances are that you have a very unique blend of priorities. For example, you may have the desire to serve in a public sector or nonprofit leadership role or volunteer, all while enjoying flexible work arrangements. This flexibility has manifested itself both within organizations, with employees requesting more telecommute or work-from-home opportunities, as well as in the manner in which employees are spending less time with individual organizations, advancing their careers while working for a number of companies. Although “giving back” and “remaining flexible” may seem to be mutually exclusive concepts, current trends and the current needs of third-sector organizations have created a special niche for those whom both terms apply. In this post, we’ll look at some of the reasons why nonprofits are increasingly engaging in outsourcing practices, as well as ways in which you can take advantage of these opportunities to get involved with some meaningful activities and projects.
Why do Nonprofits Outsource?
1. Lack of expertise in certain areas
When we think of notable nonprofits, many of the organizations that come to mind are extremely large, multi-national entities that employ thousands of people. In these cases, each operational area is filled with professional staffers who are extremely skilled in their respective organizational role. However, many third-sector organizations oftentimes find themselves lacking staff that has the requisite knowledge or training to accomplish necessary tasks or other ventures. In these situations, freelance or other flexible workers can be called upon to provide their associated skills.
2. Financial constraints
Not every nonprofit organization has the budget of the American Red Cross, and personnel funding can be both short and erratically allotted. Thankfully, freelance workers provide a degree of flexibility regarding pricing (per service rendered, per job hour, per project) that can help organization leaders more accurately assess and plan for costs. Additionally, many of the usual benefits that are offered to full-time workers are not usually expected by short-term or contract workers, which can also help to lower costs and to make these workers more attractive prospects.
3. Short-term help for particular projects
Much in line with the previous point, freelance workers may be employed on an “as needed” basis. As such, organizations can refrain from making long-term financial commitments to workers while they choose to procure their services only when necessary. In addition to saving resources, this approach can help to combat complacency since workers will oftentimes only be retained throughout the lifetime of the project or task that they are contracted to perform and will only be contacted for future work if their work is conducted in a satisfactory manner.
Sound good so far? How about now we look at …
How You can Take Advantage of these Trends
1. Engage in meaningful work without committing long term to an organization
Working in a freelance or flexible capacity with third-sector organizations allows workers to maintain their employment freedom, while affording them the opportunity to engage in meaningful work for causes that they care about. With this flexibility, you can even work in a professional capacity for multiple organizations simultaneously, enabling you to fulfill multiple service or civic-minded interests without having to commit to only one organization or cause.
2. Specialize in a particular aspect or service and solely focus on providing the service (either to all orgs or only third sector)
Many workers are interested in performing a single, niche task within a particular service area and would rather focus on performing this task or with providing a specific, unique service as opposed to performing related tasks that full-time employees would normally be asked to perform. Not only do opportunities to specialize to this level exist when freelancing, but freelance workers can also hop between sectors, working for private, third-sector, and even public organizations if they so desire. This results in more opportunities to do the exact work that YOU are the most interested in!
3. Gain experience and reference within the sector to build on connections (and bids for future projects)
Third-sector organizations are known for their collaborative efforts and can oftentimes be found trading notes or working together on projects or with planning and facilitating large-scale events. With so much communication between organizations, a well-done job or high-quality product can lead to an influx of phone calls or emails requesting a similar service. How do you feel about a few great testimonials leading to a full rolodex of work?
Whether you are on the third-sector leadership and administration end or are the freelance worker, you can take advantage of current industry trends to advance both your organization’s and your own professional interests!
Johnson & Wales University offers online MS – Nonprofit Management, MPA - Nonprofit Management, and MBA – Nonprofit Management degrees. For more information, complete the “Request Info” form on this page or call 855-JWU-1881.