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BEAN Minneapolis Blog

Living a Double Life: Balancing a For-Profit Job and a Nonprofit Aspiration
Is it possible to have your money cake and eat your fulfillment cake, too? Yeah, you betcha! Most people feel like pursuing growth in a for-profit career means that there is no way to find the type of fulfillment and meaning typical in a nonprofit venture.

I would like to offer myself as an example of being able to have both. I have been fortunate to grow professionally in my for-profit career, from software engineering at various startups to program management at Microsoft to product management at Amazon to being a senior manager of a significant business at T-Mobile USA. In parallel, I have been able to satisfy my nonprofit aspirations through volunteering through Seattle Works, helping with University of Washington Young Alumni Board, contributing to International Community Health Services, starting BEAN and serving on the board of Phinney Neighborhood Association.

So, what's the secret to having it all?

Make Giving Back a Priority in Your Busy Life

We all lead incredibly busy lives, yet we still find time for all the fun stuff, right? So, people who say "I would love to give back, but I just don't have the time." are really just saying "I don't want to give back." If you want to do it, you will allot time for it. Try committing a set number of hours each week that you will devote toward nonprofit charitable work. Think of it as your "volunteering quota" that you have to hit.

Give Money If You Are Too Busy and Stay Informed

If you are too busy right now, that's ok. It's ok to donate money instead. But, when you donate money, ask to be kept in the loop. Whether it's to receive email updates, follow them on social media or even join a non-demanding board of advisors, they are all great ways to stay informed about a cause. This way, when you do have time, you could jump in easily.

Use Your For-Profit Skills to Help Nonprofits

Many nonprofits would love to have access to your finely honed skills and experiences that you gained from your for-profit job. Use these great assets! Whether it is to assist with software projects, plan budget, craft human resource guidelines, or create marketing campaigns, your specialized sills might just be what nonprofits need the most!

Join a Nonprofit Board

If you really want to get involved with a nonprofit, apply to join their board of directors. It's an amazing experience to learn about the group and help shape its future. Seattle Works and many other groups offer courses on things you should know about serving on a nonprofit board. It's a great way to get started!

See Nonprofit Involvement Also as Networking Opportunities

Now that you have decided to donate your time and effort toward your favored nonprofit cause, you might ask yourself "I am glad I am helping out, but is there anything here that would help my career?" Absolutely! Volunteering is excellent networking opportunity with many community leaders that will definitely help your career prospects.

If You Can't Find a Suitable Nonprofit, Start Your Own!

For those you with entrepreneurial aspirations don't focus only on for-profit ventures. If you discover an area of service that is not currently being met, and you have an innovative way to fill the need, you should look to start your own. Starting BEAN is one of my most challenging and fulfilling ventures that I have ever done. Try to start your own!


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