Do you harass your colleagues at the coffee machine by constantly asking them; what is the point of this job? Do you often think you want to do 'something useful' for society? In that case, it may be time to apply for a job at a non-profit organisation. Hanneke Verburg, CEO of the Make-A-Wish foundation, explains what candidates should prepare for.

It's a thought that often rises when you return from your holiday. You process all your unanswered emails and think; why am I doing all this? Well, you're not the only one.

It often starts to rankle among people with a good office job, mostly round the age of 35. They have a nice career, get bonuses at the end of the year, but want more in life than a bigger bank account balance and the launch of a new product. They want to contribute to society.

Hanneke Verburg, CEO of Make-A-Wish, recognizes the feeling. She also had a successful career before she decided to change course entirely. With Make-A-Wish, she and all staff members, as well as 400 volunteers, they try to make a difference by granting the wishes of children with severe and sometimes life threatening diseases.

“It was the best step that I could take at that moment in my career,” as says Hanneke Verburg. “I always liked working in a commercial environment, but I just couldn't feel what it meant to me at a certain moment. I wanted to contribute to a better world.”

So, what if you want to change course to? What should you pay attention to?

  1. Not every good cause suits everyone

When you apply for a job at a certain company, you generally can be less picky than someone applying for a job at a charitable institution or an NGO. After all, in the business world it doesn't matter if you lead the finance department of a coffee brand or an IT provider. That's different with a non-profit organisation. “I wouldn't apply if I had no personal affinity with a good cause,” Hanneke explains. “We connected right away when I was asked to work with Make-A-Wish. I could imagine working at the Kidney Foundation too, because I have an emotional bond there, because my father died from kidney disease. I don't necessarily click with the Dutch Brandwondenstichting (foundation for burn injuries and wounds) though. It's therefore a very personal choice.”

  1. The money is mainly for the good cause (and a small amount is for you)

Bonuses, a business iPhone, a good salary; everything you take for granted in company life are things you have to forget when you start working at a non-profit organisation. “The salary is a hurdle for some people. We don't get financial incentives or other extras. That's why it's important to choose an organisation very carefully,” says Hanneke. “The goal should be so close to your heart that you want to work very hard for it, also without a bonus. A lot of people want to, by the way. The response to our vacancies is huge.”

  1. Competitiveness is good, but don't lose sight of the team

As Hanneke explains, “It's a misconception that charitable organisations are not competitive. Our employees are also judged by targets. We are very happy when someone uses his sales qualities to help our organisation. For example, we just hired someone with a commercial background to work for us as an account manager. She is used to generating the highest possible revenue for the organisation; she got judged for this in her last position. She now uses this mentality to get enrolments for us. The difference with a lot of commercial organisations is that we do not compete between ourselves. She also helps her colleague, who may have received less enrolments for us. As a team, we eventually want to bring in as much as possible for our good cause,” concludes Hanneke.

Would you like to work at Make-A-Wish too? You can view the latest vacancies here

Candidate Relevancy gauge

Try our smart new tool to find your perfect job!

Popular Articles