ProInspire Helps Business Professionals Transition to Nonprofit Careers

ProInspireNew fellowship program places business sector emigres in critical roles in nonprofits in the Washington, DC, area.

Launched during the worst economic climate in generations, ProInspire eases the path of business professionals to find careers that are more meaningful to them — while helping nonprofits recruit people with the hard financial and other skills crucial for their long-term sustainability.

With the application deadline just days away (April 8th) for its first group of Fellows, ProInspire hopes to infuse the nonprofit sector with people who are trained with financial and project-management skills common in the for-profit sector. And any influx of staff may help in the long run. The nonprofit sector is projected to need to recruit 640,000 executives in the coming years as the baby boomer generation begins to retire.

National and international service corps are one well-trod path to social impact careers; with the increase in participant numbers in the coming years, that should help off set the brain drain of the retiring baby boomers.

The establishment of the U.S. Public Service Academy (the citizen counterpart to the military academies) will also increase the visibility and access to public service career paths for new generations.

ProInspire’s approach is to help nonprofits recognize and access the talent of people who’ve been on staff of “top-tier” business firms, and to identify roles that these business people can play effectively within their community benefit organizations.

Founded by Harvard Business School grad Monisha Kapila, ProInspire recruits the business talent. Then it offers professional development and support to help Fellows successfully transition into their organizations.  Training includes topics like adapting to nonprofit culture, building a career in the sector, and understanding social issues that host organizations address.  ProInspire provides monthly workshops, coaching, mentoring, and a cohort of other Fellows to learn from and grow with.

Host agencies pay the salaries — suggested at $38-48K annually — and provide health benefits. They also manage the work of the Fellow.

After the fellowship term, Fellows may have a chance to stay on at their host organization; they may find employment elsewhere; or they may be ready to go back to grad school.

If you are a Washington, DC, area organization interested in learning more about future hosting possibilities, check out the ProInspire’s information for hosts.

If you are interested in applying to become a Fellow, read more about the fellowship and the application process.

For businsess professionals looking for support to transition to the nonprofit sector, check out ProInspire’s resource page, and also the Idealist Guide to Nonprofit Careers for Sector Switchers (free and online). You can also find valuable information about professional business and nonprofit management education through Net Impact and the Nonprofit Academic Centers Council (NACC). To learn more about grad school for social impact, explore the Idealist Public Service Graduate Education Resource Center, and Idealist Graduate Degree Fairs for the Public Good.

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2 thoughts on “ProInspire Helps Business Professionals Transition to Nonprofit Careers

  1. “The nonprofit sector is projected to lose 640,000 people to retirement in the coming years.”

    – 640,000 potential job openings spread acroos in the coming years should be some good news amidst the recession.

  2. That number comes from a 2006 Stanford Social Innovation Review article, “The Leadership Deficit” by Thomas Tierney specifically about executives. According to the author, “attracting that many managers is the equivalent of recruiting more than 50 percent of every MBA graduating class, at every university across the country, every year for the next 10 years.” The shrinking economy may imply a shift in those numbers. Also note that a potential problem for emerging leaders is that many people in the pipeline to assume exec roles see what kind of lives their executive directors have to live in order to fulfill their jobs, and just say no. Check out the study, using survey responses from Idealist members in part, Ready to Lead (PDF).

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