Nurse’s Guide to Nonprofit Management

Maura Deering, J.D.
Updated April 17, 2023
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Are you a nurse interested in transitioning to a career in nonprofit management? Our guide offers information about nonprofit management master's degrees, career options, and salaries.
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Nonprofit manager presenting to boardCredit: SDI Productions / E+ / Getty Images

Nurses bring experience and transferable skills to nonprofit management, particularly in healthcare. These career opportunities often appeal to nurses looking to transition into administrative positions.

Nonprofit organizations often focus on population and community health or specific conditions, with professionals working in hospitals and long-term care centers. According to a 2019 Urban Institute report, just over 12% of public charities are health organizations, which accounted for almost three-fifths of public charity revenues and expenses in 2016.

Explore nonprofit management roles, educational pathways to nonprofit management, and information on potential careers and projected salaries with this helpful guide.

What Is Nonprofit Management?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies nonprofit managers as fundraising managers. Typical duties include developing and implementing fundraising strategies, communicating with potential donors, planning events, and applying for grants.

Many nursing skills complement abilities needed for nonprofit management, such as leadership, organization, problem-solving, and communication. Nonprofit managers work within hospitals, universities, charitable foundations, professional organizations, and research programs.

Notable examples of nonprofit health organizations include the American Cancer Society, the American Nurses Association, the American Red Cross, and Doctors Without Borders.

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Nonprofit Management Degree Overview

Nurses who hold a bachelor of science in nursing can find employment, but other positions might require a master of science in nursing (MSN) or a nonprofit management master’s degree. A certification in fundraising, such as credentials offered by CFRE International, can enhance employment opportunities.

Master’s degrees typically take two years to complete online or in person, with most offering full-time and part-time enrollment options. These programs often feature internship opportunities and culminate with capstone projects.

Nonprofit management course topics include philanthropy, policy economics and development, public management, and strategic planning. Many MSN programs include administrative and leadership tracks, with coursework in finance and operations management, healthcare economics, and health policy and advocacy. Choosing which master’s degree to pursue can depend on the hiring organization’s needs and the applicant’s career goals.

Admission into master’s degree programs usually requires a bachelor’s degree and a 3.0 undergraduate GPA. An MSN requires a registered nurse license and prerequisite coursework in statistics, anatomy, physiology, and microbiology.

What Can You Do With a Degree in Nonprofit Management?

A master’s degree in nonprofit management offers many career options, including those listed below.

  • Advocacy Director: This position works with boards, community groups, donors, government officials, and other stakeholders to advance the organization’s mission and attract funding. A master’s degree, technical knowledge, and strong communication skills commonly appear among employment requirements.
  • Education Coordinator: This role oversees projects that seek to raise the public’s awareness and knowledge of the organization’s mission. An applicant typically needs a bachelor’s degree or certification.
  • Fundraiser: These specialists develop and implement fundraising strategies, such as events and campaigns, to garner donations. A fundraiser needs strong communication skills and typically must possess a bachelor’s degree.
  • Grant Writer: Job duties include researching potential funding sources, drafting proposals, and following submission guidelines. A bachelor’s degree in any field typically suffices for this role, but classes in marketing or English can strengthen an application.
  • Nonprofit Manager: These professionals handle personnel management, resource allocation, and other organizational management tasks. A candidate should hold a bachelor’s degree at a minimum but may need a master’s degree, depending on the employer.
  • Program Director: Master’s degree-holders with management and leadership skills can find positions developing and implementing programmatic strategies within their organizations. Common responsibilities include operational and fundraising.

As of May 2021, the BLS reports a median annual salary of $119,860 for fundraising managers, these professionals making a median salary of $102,720 in educational services and $126,780 for those in hospitals. The BLS also projects employment for fundraising managers to grow by 10% from 2021-2031.

Frequently Asked Questions About Nurse Nonprofit Management

What can nurses do in a nonprofit organization?

While clinical roles are available in nonprofit organizations, most nurses elect to work in non-clinical, administrative capacities. Nonprofits in the health industry typically focus on specific health conditions (American Cancer Society) or community health (American Red Cross).

Nonprofits hire nurses for their medical backgrounds to help establish and design health-related programs related to the organization’s focus.

What skills are important for nurses in nonprofit management?

Flexible, proactive, organized nurses with strong collaboration and communication skills can thrive in nonprofit management. They should have a clear understanding of the organization’s mission. Commitment and dedication to organizational goals can increase the quality of their work.

Do nonprofits pay well?

According to Payscale, workers in nonprofit management earn an annual salary of $56,390 as of April 2023. The base salary can range from approximately $41,000-$81,000 depending on qualifications, experience, responsibilities, location, and organization type and size.

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