Girls that work at non-profits

Hey all,

Has anyone here casually seen, be-friended, or dated girls that work at non-profits? Can we have a candid discussion of pro’s and con’s here? Would you recommend in short term vs. long-term, i.e. fun vs. sustainability?

Lately I seem to have been meeting more of them at various social functions such as benefits and fundraisers here in NYC. They always seem very enthusiastic and energetic and sometimes are quite cute, while generally being eager to meet successful professionals in the private sector. Curiously, a lot of the non-profit girls I’ve met come from pretty good schools and I’m not sure what drove them to non-profits, i.e. something they’re truly passionate about versus unfounded idealism.

I don’t have any stories but would love to hear some from the battle-tested vets on this forum.

These chicks are wealthy chicks, or at least upper middle class, who dont really want a real job, but because of feminism haven’t yet become housewives, secretaries, etc. Like all women, they want wealthy guys and champagne laced balls. They just don’t want to have to work for it. By working in nonprofits its their job to woo wealthy men and hang out them at such events. Eventually they will get married to one. They are good diggers wins fake conscious.

I do see a lot of girls from upper middle class backgrounds who go into “altruistic” jobs like NGO, teaching, research, etc. Some of them are well informed and passionate for sure. However, lots of them just have not considered that these jobs will not provide them with the same lifestyle as they grew up with. As a result, many get disillusioned and switch careers. Others just stop working after a while; they tend to marry men who are similarly well educated but are more likely to pursue high earning careers.

This does not mean that their idealism is not genuine (unlike what ChickenTikka suggests). Your priorities just change over time. Eventually, women realize that they won’t be able to send their future kids to Bryn Mawr (or whatever college they went to) without a six figure income. After a while, scraping by with indie lifestyle is not practical or desireable.

numi, I think you are in your late 20s, right? This is around the age where idealistic people get burned out. So, there are probably a lot of people who will look at you as a potential life upgrade. People on the edge of burning out also tend to question their beliefs - meaning that they are less zealous and easier to talk to.

Nonprofits can attract the best and brightest of a respective industry. My man Peter Drucker found that Nonprofits are often called ‘bootcamps’ for corporate America. Furthermore, a nonprofit will also have an altruistic edge that often directly aligns with the employees personal interest and beliefs. Money is often a poor motivated at a specific threshold while ending world hunger can be a lifelong pursuit. This is where the passion comes from that you see. As much as I try, I can’t stay passionate about pushing buttons on a keyboard all day while shuffling paper to turn a little bit of money into a lot of money. Please.

I’ve been getting involved with local nonprofits and have been blown away at the number of high caliber associates and volunteers. I’ve met more BSD types in this realm than at a CFA/MBA function. The people often have less of a pompous attitude likewise, (ie I’m M&A’in on the Buyside!).

Nonprofits are not crappy organizations full of do-gooders. Many are extremely well run and capital rich. Unlike a corporation, residual profits either get reinvested or donated in order to retain the 501C or whatever their tax standing is.

Yep, either coming from family money or social climbing.

Really good posts from Ohai and CFAvsMBA on this.

I was rather surprised by this statement from numi: “Curiously, a lot of the non-profit girls I’ve met come from pretty good schools and I’m not sure what drove them to non-profits,” The corrolary bing that no one with an education would do non-profit work.

Nonprofit work is hard. Because not only are you not allowed to make a profit, you can’t make a loss either. So you have to hit a budget target exactly, not try to hit-or-exceed it.

As far as the women in non-profits. There tend to be two types: there are the development people, who go out and try to get donations or contracts, and then there are the management types who actually run projects and divisions. The ones who run projects of any size have to be as smart and as savvy as private sector managers, and they are competing with other non-profits on quality and price and fees, just like private sector folks. Sometimes they are even competing with private sector companies directly. The ones who do the donations tend to be prettier and more outgoing, because men with money are more likely to listen to their pitch just for the opportunity to spend a lunch or a dinner with an attractive woman, and that makes them more effective in their job, just like relationship managers in the investment world.

People in non-profits have to care about the substance of the mission, or they will just burn out. There are relatively few non-profit people who last long if they do not care about the mission (with the exception of the administrative assistant straff, who may be content to come in for a 9-5 job). It is true that with the global recession, some people work at non-profits because they couldn’t find anything elsewhere, but non-profits do not like to hire people who are not interested in the non-profit’s mission. It’s even more important than in the private sector, where people tend to assume that as long as you’re paid enough, you’ll be happy. Turnover costs in non-profit work are also high, so the importance of the mission is very relevant in hiring.

Senior non-profit people can rake in handy compensation as well, although just like the private sector, there can be a big pay difference between the top and the bottom, and it creates the same kinds of jealousies and envy you see in the private sector.

Non-profit women tend to have to be articulate and knowledgeable, because they have to make good arguments about things that are often hard to argue. This is why you see a fair number from good schools. If you think conversation is important, and you can stand a little pushback on your ideas, that can be good. However, these women generally come with a strong dose of feminism (and often other liberal ideas), so if that’s not your cup of tea, be aware of that. Personally, I’ve always had mixed feelings about feminism. I like having more intelligent, capable women around, and I think that limiting women’s options to being secretaries and mothers and teachers was wrong, but I also think that some feminist women feel that anything that’s bad for men is automatically good for women, or that proving their feminist credentials requires being nasty towards men, and I’m not on board with that.

From what I know about you, numi, I think you might like some of these non-profit women. Be forewarned may be a bit conflicted because non-profits won’t pay as much as you’re likely to be making. They will like the fact that if they are with you, they don’t have to worry so much about this, but they will worry about you having too much power over them. That’s not unique to non-profit women, of course, but they will be much more conscious and aware of this, and it could cause them to keep changing their minds about how they feel about you.

  1. Thank You.

  2. Respectfully, a Non Profit can make up to around a 4% profit margin. Anything beyond that simply needs to be donated. Like all companies, they want to allocate capital to make as much money as possible, the residual profits are simply donated to the respetive causes. While furthering the cause is the primary goal, not a single nonprofit would turn away from a successful fundraiser, benefit, investment, or donation bringing their total profit margin to 100%. 96% will be donated away.

The CFA L3 curriculum should incorporate above posts in its revision of next year’s syllabus.

This is very true. I wish it wasn’t. Then when telethons hit their goal they’d get off the air and let me get back to my regularly scheduled programming. (I’m looking at you “Night of Too Many Stars”)

I co-founded a non-profit while still working full time. The people we had working and volunteering were an aerospace engineer in his twenties, a successful marketing strategy consultant (entrepreneur) in his 40s, a Harvard educated management consultant in his twenties, a doctor in early thirties. Lots of people are passionate about other things than making money or working on their primary profession.

As far as the women in non-profits go, same as with any industry: they vary. Only one constant I can think of: because of their non-profit career, they will actually be less impressed by your financial means/schooling/career than somebody who works in finance. And, they could be richer than you or come from nothing…totally varies, just like people in real life:).

You have a good point.

However, I guess we need to start getting into the fact that there are actually a lot of different kinds non-profits. I’ve worked for one that basically was a consulting and project management firm run as an operating foundation. We were bidding for contracts from other foundations, government, and international agencies to do things that meet their mission statements. For all intents and purposes, we were a mission-oriented for-profit company, but we were not allowed to make a profit. Sometimes we found ourselves competing with for-profits for contracts. Basically, we could cover our costs, plus a small cushion (which can be interpreted as a kind of risk premium) for unexpected expenses. With the US government, the size of this cushion had to be renegotiated every few years.

There are other non-profits that go and try to collect $10 donations from 5 million people every year, and there the rules are designed to ensure that the donations actually make it (mostly) to the intended recipients, and not just the pockets of the organizers. Then there are foundations, where the non-profit status is designed to protect investment returns fromt taxation, although foundations in the US are required to spend at least some amount (I think 5%) of their AUM on charitable causes, either through donations to other non-profits, or their own non-investing-non-administrative operations.

For many non-profits, the most important aspect of non-profit status is about the tax deductiblity of donations or the ability for foundations to finance those organizations and claim that they are disposing of their money in forms that meet their legal and charter requirements - i.e. the ability to recieve money from people who either can claim it as a tax deduction, or for a foundation to claim it as a charitable donation.

Under some conditions non-profits actually are allowed to make profits, by the way. If profits are not recycled into charitable activities, it’s not a problem as long as they are claimed and then are taxed. If you’re honest about those profits and don’t try to use your non-profit status as a shield to protect profits from taxes, the US government doesn’t have a problem. It can be a public-relations problem, however, becuase it doesn’t look good to the public.

I think there is a material difference though, between NGOs at a high level and young people who do non-profit work as a career. Most likely, if you graduate from college and go work for Teach for America, you are not thinking about the nitty gritty of what money goes where in the organization. You just want to “help people”. Bureaucracy and lack of altruism, if they are indeed endemic to non-profit organizations, would be a likely cause of disilussionment for many young idealists.

I guess numi hasn’t been too clear on whether these are career nonprofit people or just “I want to tell my friends I’m doing altruistic stuff before I burn out” people. Both kinds exist.

Government work can be like this too. At the bottom level, you have line workers who really are just there to punch a clock, collect a paycheck and benefits. At the mid-level you have often-quite-well trained subject specialists and managers who have to manage complex organizational problems just like any private sector person. They are often talented and highly educated, but frustrated by the constraints of bureaucracy and the wierdness of having to be accountable to political overlords who may or may not share any desire for the organization to function. At the top you have appointees and political ladder-climbers some of whom tend to be stuffed suits just filling a post, holding a title, and trying to make sure that whatever work actually gets done gets spun the right way to advance their careers.

Hmm. I guess there is one more category then… The young people who want to do something altruistic, but realize that it’s impractical to do this for their whole career. For instance, I know some people who worked for Peace Corp, Teach for America, etc. But after their programs are over, they go get for-profit jobs. This was their intention all along; they didn’t just get burned out and quit.

True idealists, it seems, can initially *believe* that they will be career non-profit people. However, once they realize they have to play dirty at higher levels, many decide it’s not worth it.

And then, I guess there are the old-timers. Most likely, some are idealists and others are ladder climbers. I don’t think numi is going after these, unless he likes milfs.

Hi all, thanks for the thoughtful responses and perspectives. I realize many of you have more “life experience” than me so appreciate the words of wisdom. You guys have made a lot of good points, essentially saying that just like the general population, women in non-profits can come of all colors and stripes and may have a huge range of motivations.

A couple quick follow-ups, and assuming that this thread is more than just about random hookups (I have lower standards for non-physical attributes for these situations)…

For me, it’s not so important what a girl earns. What matters most is that they have some sort of passion or drive and curiosity to see the world. However, what does matter is that they are pretty practical. For example, even though I’m expecting and am OK with paying for a lion’s share of stuff in a relationship. I also adjust my expectations based on where the girl is in life (i.e. we were much closer to 70/30 when I was dating someone that made nearly as much as I did, and 90/10 for a girl that I was dating who was in medical school but only earned a modest stipend at the time). However, who pays for what matters a whole lot less to me than being grounded in reality.

Sure, I guess it’s cool if I were dating someone that made more than me and was OK taking a luxury vacation to Saint-Tropez, but I run for the hills when if someone on a very modest salary were to suggest the same – in that case I’d rather just not go to Saint-Tropez at all and find something local to do that could be just as fun. Anyone else feeling me on this? Just curious because there seem to be some women that get showered with gifts all the time, and there must be men out there that are doing a lot of the “showering.”

What I’m saying is that I don’t begrudge a girl for thinking she could make her life better by getting with someone that had more income, but I do think it’s incredibly vapid for anyone to just want to be with someone for the purposes of benefiting monetarily. I know this sounds judgmental, but that is my view based on the value system I subscribe to. Frankly I’d rather be poor and live an incredibly fascinating life with vary interesting people, than to be living off of someone else’s wealth. I say this not towards people that are truly passionate about their non-profit cause, but who are merely using it as a vehicle to meet people for their non-altruistic betterment.

When I wrote the original post, I had in mind people that had only ever worked in the non-profit sector. As a guy in my late 20’s that’s recently single, it’s not like I have seen everything that the world has to offer. However, I have traveled to over 30 countries, lived on three continents and have done a fair bit of non-profit work in different countries with my most “senior” role being the CFO of a small 501©(3) organization while I had been working in private equity. I can definitely appreciate the significant challenges that non-profits need to maneuver and the skilled people that help these institutions survive, as CFAvsMBA, bchadwick, and brain_wash_your_face have mentioned.

Therefore, the purpose of my post was not to suggest that non-profit work was a somehow less noble career path than anything else. What I was specifically curious about was to understand what motivates people only to have ever worked in the non-profit space. What piqued my curiosity was that recently I have met girls from non-profit that want to date me, while also seeing that a huge number of people at various social functions where “front office” folks attend that also happen to be attended by many non-profit folks, primarily women.

Bchadwick and ohai have highlighted some of challenges that might exist with dating someone from the non-profit world. I’m not perturbed by “social climbing” per se – as many of us think our lives would be better off being with some beautiful girl, that same girl would think they’re better off dating someone earning a higher income (not a fan of “gold diggers” though, but who is?). I’m more curious about whether people here that know a lot of folks from non-profit would say that they see the world as being fundamentally different, and whether a convergence of views could be expected in the future. Have any of you been out with girls (other than hookups) from the non-profit space and care to comment on this?

Thanks again for the interesting discussion here!

I think as I’ve re-read my own posts and yours, the concerns you’ve mentioned are pretty key – I’m generally attracted to strong women (as opposed to those that are unsure or indecisive).

For clarification, I did not mean to suggest that social climbers are somhow inferior from a dating perspective. In fact, they might even be better in some ways (most likely less ideological, more practical). I also did not mean to suggest that social climbers are morally inferior to other people - career advancement is a reasonable goal for everyone.

I suspect that non-profit types are less into social-climbing than the average population, else they would not have gone into non-profits in the first place. That suggests a better fit for your tastes. And they are generally passionate, or at least fairly interested/motivated in the work that they do. Although - like everyone - they like nice things, one thing that’s nice about non-profit people is that they tend to evaluate themselves on what they do and accomplish, as opposed to what they have acquired, and that tends to make them more interesting people to talk to.

As far as practicality is concerned, there’s a range. I find that non-profit people who have been there a few years and who aren’t disillusioned with the field have a nice balance between practicality and still having some standards and ideals.

A woman who works in non-profit will probably look at you as a nice catch because she feels she doesn’t have to worry so much about how much she makes in order to have a comfortable future, but I suspect she’s less likely than most to be a gold digger in the classic sense of requiring you to deliver expensive gifts and luxuries (she’ll still appreciate them, of course, but she won’t necessarily demand them). Many non-profit types have a slight disdain for luxuries, or at least the ostentatious ones, because they want to avoid the appearences of using non-profit resources for personal gain. The main exceptions being non-profit types that work in the arts or right-wing political organizations, where the goal is to fit right in with the wealthy and powerful and luxuries help them play the part.

A true social climber doesn’t work for a non-profit, they volunteer.

There aren’t greater inefficiencies in the non-profit sector. You still have to be confident, funny, successful, etc.