Whether you’re new to the nonprofit industry or a seasoned nonprofit professional, there comes a time in your career when you realize that you need more experience than you possess. Maybe you’re not sure how else you can diversify your nonprofit’s revenue or maybe you feel overwhelmed planning a fundraising event.

In times like these, you can’t always rely on gaining the knowledge you need at your job. Take action into your own hands and look for other ways to become more experienced. 

In this article, we’ll cover a few tips for how you can grow your knowledge base and become a more confident and effective nonprofit professional. By doing so, you’ll be able to secure your role in the nonprofit world and create a more positive impact on your community.

1. Diversify your skill set.

As a nonprofit professional, you’re already aware that you have to wear many different hats—marketer, event planner, web designer, and more. If you’re just starting in the industry, however, you probably haven’t honed all the skills necessary for all your roles.

To diversify your skillset and gain the knowledge you need, take a look at the following educational resources:

This image shows types of learning resources for nonprofit professionals who want to gain experience, also detailed in the text below.

  • Blog posts. An easily accessible resource, blog posts are a convenient way for you to kickstart your learning. They are a great way to learn more about surface-level or broader topics but may be lacking if you’re interested in diving further into one specific topic.
  • Books. Books are a tried-and-true format for conveying knowledge and are an invaluable resource for nonprofit professionals. Nonprofit books usually cover a single topic thoroughly, allowing you to gain the depth of knowledge you seek. If you’re looking for recommendations for your reading list, check out Elevate Nonprofit’s list of fundraising books.
  • Podcasts. For professionals with a long commute, podcasts are a great way to multitask and stay productive while traveling. Plus, podcasts for the nonprofit sector are usually hosted by experts, giving you access to their years of experience and expertise.
  • Webinars and panels. If you’re looking for a more interactive learning experience, consider attending nonprofit webinars and panels. During these events, organizers usually invite multiple different experts to speak about a specific topic. Although you’ll need to set aside time during your day to attend or watch the webinar, you’ll have access to diverse viewpoints, helping you grow your knowledge. Additionally, you may even have the opportunity to ask questions of the experts.
  • Classes. For professionals who are ready to seriously invest in their growth, taking a class is a great way to expand your knowledge. Of the options in this list, classes are the most expensive resource, but they provide you with information that you may not otherwise be able to access. This is a great option for professionals who want to learn more about a specialized topic or skill.

The resource type that will be the most helpful for you depends on your needs. If you’re a new nonprofit professional looking for fundraising ideas, then we’d recommend starting with blog posts and then making your way to podcasts and books. On the other hand, if you’re more experienced and looking to learn the ins and outs of nonprofit marketing, then you may have more success with webinars and classes.

2. Reflect on successes and errors.

As you keep working in the nonprofit industry, you’ll inevitably have successful projects and projects that you couldn’t quite get right. Treat each of these moments as a learning experience and take the time to reflect on them.

To help you reflect, start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What helped you succeed?
  • How can you build upon those skills to ensure your future success?
  • What did you learn throughout the project?
  • Did you collaborate effectively with your colleagues?
  • What were the most significant challenges you encountered?
  • How can you better navigate these challenges in the future?

For example, let’s say that you’re in charge of your organization’s next marketing campaign, which aims to bring in more volunteers. From reflecting on previous experiences, you know that you can’t rely on a single marketing channel and need to branch out a bit more.

With that knowledge in mind, you decide to set yourself up for success by researching the best marketing channels for your campaign. By doing so, you discover programs designed to help nonprofits with their outreach, such as the Google Ad Grant. According to Getting Attention, you can receive $10,000 in free monthly advertising credits by applying to this program. Through this grant, you’re able to create a much more successful volunteer marketing campaign.

By reflecting on your successes and challenges, you’ll have a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses that you can leverage to see greater success in the future.

3. Seek leadership opportunities.

Push yourself out of your comfort zone and grow by seeking out leadership opportunities. By doing so, you’ll be able to grow as a nonprofit professional and as a working professional in general.

When it comes to leadership opportunities, we recommend that you volunteer to take charge of corporate partnerships. Through this experience, you’ll learn more about how to interact with major donors, more effectively solicit gifts, and steward meaningful relationships with your supporters.

Another great opportunity to consider is revamping and enhancing your nonprofit’s website. Through this type of project, you’ll learn more about search engine optimization (SEO), writing marketing copy, crafting effective calls to action (CTAs), and a little bit of web design.

Taking advantage of opportunities such as these will give you the chance to build upon your skills, learn more about what type of work you enjoy, and become a more valuable and effective worker.

4. Connect with other professionals.

The final tip for gaining experience as a nonprofit professional is to connect with other individuals who work in the industry. Aside from your colleagues, don’t be afraid of reaching out and starting a conversation or professional relationship with other nonprofit employees. Your networking can occur online through platforms such as LinkedIn or in person at events and conferences.

In addition to connecting with like-minded individuals, you can seek mentorship from your connections. Individuals who have been in the industry longer may be happy to share their experiences and knowledge with you. For example, if you’re having trouble organizing your nonprofit’s next fundraising event, you might contact a fundraising professional in your network to lend you their support.

Working as a nonprofit professional is by no means an easy job. From weaving storytelling through your marketing materials to recruiting volunteers for your next event, your responsibilities will be many and varied. However, working for a nonprofit can also be an extremely fulfilling and rewarding experience. Ensure that you make the most of your work and effectively help your nonprofit’s beneficiaries by using the four tips above.