Nonprofit and Social Impact Careers

Bowdoin was founded upon and endowed with the belief that there is something bigger than ourselves, with the view that the commitment to the common good is not something we own, but something that we seek through working towards equality, diversity and inclusion.

Many Bowdoin students pursue nonprofit and social impact work after Bowdoin, making meaningful, positive contributions to their communities and the lives of others both locally and globally.  Bowdoin’s graduates include founders of nationally recognized nonprofits such as the Harlem Children’s Zone and Year Up, as well as countless other contributors to other important social issues.

Nonprofit describes all tax-exempt organizations in the U.S. devoted to a social cause while providing a public benefit. Globally, similar organizations may be referred to as NGOs.  You will find nonprofit organizations in most career fields, from education to environment to the arts to social justice to policy to the sciences and healthcare.  Social impact describes the effect of an activity or organization on individuals and a community. When we talk about careers in social impact, we are often talking about working for nonprofit organizations, but many businesses have some activities devoted to social impact (such as their corporate social responsibility departments) as well as certified B-corps, businesses that aims to balance purpose and profit.

Sample Career Paths

Direct Service: Interacting directly with individuals and communities. Roles include youth development, community organizing, social work, and service corps.

Set or support organizational goals, strategy, measurement and culture: Roles such as research and evaluation or special assistant to the Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director or Chief Operating Officer or Chief Program Officer. Nonprofit and for-profit consulting firms often also provide these services for nonprofits.

Ensure sufficient public and financial support for the organization: Marketing, public relations, government relations, development (fundraising).

Provide “back office” support for the organization to operate: Nonprofits need business administration roles, from human resources (e.g. recruiting, talent development, diversity and inclusion), to finance, to information technology.

Philanthropy and impact investing: Foundations, venture philanthropists, and impact investors provide the capital needed to fund nonprofit activities. Some invest for purely social return (good work being done in the world) and some for both social return and a hope for a modest profit.

Meet Alumni

VIDEO: Nonprofit Symposium