Home OPINIONS The Social Sector Offers Appealing Career Paths Too

The Social Sector Offers Appealing Career Paths Too


Many young people today are attracted by the idea of social entrepreneurship. They want their work to be meaningful and have a rewarding career. These individuals want to contribute towards the betterment of society. Working for the sole purpose of earning a paycheck simply isn’t good enough anymore. Young individuals are looking for jobs that matter and through which they can make a difference in the world. “Do well by doing good” is the motto for many of these budding professionals, and they’re looking for careers that meet that criteria.

There is growing popularity of “triple-bottom-line” companies. These organisations measure their success not just by profitability but their impact on people and planet. This makes it easier for socially minded jobseekers to land satisfying positions. That said, some people seem to have forgotten that there is a huge and growing field of organisations working directly within the social sector, namely foundations and non-profits. These organisations sole mission is to benefit humanity. Social organisations are in need of enthusiastic, educated, skilled, and creative individuals with fresh perspectives who can help raise operational efficiencies and effectiveness to levels that match those of the private sector.

Why is it that charity-oriented jobseekers aren’t automatically gravitating toward careers with non-profit organisations? There may be a number of reasons, but they all likely stem from assumptions about what it means to work at a non-profit—from salary and benefits, to the type of work, to the level of autonomy and innovation allowed. Unfortunately, non-profits are often seen as “backwards,” “inefficient,” or “full of red tape.” Social organisations can both quell that legacy and ensure their success and viability well into the mid-century by creating attractive opportunities for young people to start their working lives in rewarding roles where they can contribute to social action and change.

We often encourage non-profits and foundations, when they’re developing their five-year and ten-year plans,to think about how to bring the technology and innovation of the for-profit world into their program strategies. Donors like to see that their grantees are nimble, keeping up with times, and incorporating appropriate technology to ensure maximum impact and effectiveness. While every issue area and organisation is different, here are a few examples of critical areas where specific talent is needed:

Communications: Most non-profit organisations with well-run programs spend years refining them through trial and error. Their connection with communities at a grassroots level is very strong. Their work could be expanded greatly with the help of young people with good communication skills to develop grant proposals and help connect with donors. Many non-profit organisations in India have branches in the US, led by young people, which promote the work and raise funds.

Software Development: Due to some high profile cases of corruption, even honest non-profits seeking funding are finding it difficult to earn the trust of donors. Donors want complete transparency and accountability. Software developers are in high demand to develop programme for foundations and non-profits that allow donors to see the status of their contributions in real time. Rather than donors just giving money and wondering where this funds were utilised: they now have a way to know —for example, where a well was dug and how many people it helped. For some non-profits, this level of transparency is translating into being able to raise more money and thus take on more projects. Software developers can contribute meaningfully toward supporting integrity within the non-profit sector, as well as ensure that the most successful and effective programme are rewarded.

Logistics: Many organisations have built highly effective community development programs, but only in small pockets of the country. For example, one organisation in Maharashtra distributes Rs. 200 vegetable seed packets to families for free. The resulting kitchen gardens have gone a long way towards addressing nutritional deficiencies in the village population. Scaling this type of organisation requires fairly significant logistical planning and support— skill-sets the organisation currently lacks. Young, qualified people considering careers in online retail, shipping and transportation, or in supply chain management might instead look into helping build rural distribution networks for non-profit organisations to expand their work.

Mobile Technology: Multiple multinational IT companies are battling over who will win the bid to deliver high speed internet to rural India. No matter which side wins, it introduces a major new element to organisations working in remote regions; the power to transmit data quickly. As mobile technology becomes increasingly cheaper and more powerful, mobile devices and applications get pushed further and further into rural villages in India. Whether it’s new ways to do tele-medicine, crowd-sourced farming tips or new forms of e-commerce, the market for mobile technology is about to explode. As it does, application developers will be in high demand from non-profits seeking to scale their impact through those new channels.

Healthcare: Doctors and nurses with all levels of expertise will always be in need. However, as technology allows non-profit programs to reach increasingly remote areas, the need for doctors and supporting technical staff will only rise. We know that one of the main barriers to people earning sufficient livelihoods and escaping poverty is access to affordable and effective healthcare. Young medical professionals have opportunities to use their skill and knowledge in the social sector to bring healing to problems that extend far beyond the body— indeed, to entire families and communities as well.

Business Leadership: The social sector offers rewarding opportunities for young people to grow and lead in ways that the private sector may not. We have seen young people leading the charge to make a difference across the country. It is remarkable to see eighteen-year-olds starting grassroots organisations in their own villages, often to address issues they faced themselves. Many have even started profitable social enterprises that also benefit the community.

As the second largest country in the world (in terms of population) the scope of India’s need for humanitarian work is massive. Poverty, healthcare, education, clean water, energy, sanitation, women’s empowerment, disabilities, agriculture, environment are just a few of the pressing issues faced by our country. The social sector organisations committed to solving these issues could benefit significantly from an influx of young jobseekers from all types of educational backgrounds. Whether you’re a doctor, engineer, software developer, website designer, filmmaker, historian, social media guru, accountant, or anything in between, consider this an open invitation to pursue a career in the social sector. India needs you.

The Author is one of the board member in The Hans Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization based in New Delhi.

Views of the author are personal and do not necessarily represent the website’s views.

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The CSR Journal Team