06 May

Nonprofit Workforce in the US: Just the Facts

Sometimes we hear that people are surprised to learn that nonprofits employ people, or that one can earn a living wage at a nonprofit organization. According to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2022, about 6.5% of all employed people in the US worked for a nonprofit organization. The proportion in Wisconsin is a little higher than the national average.

It is true that the vast majority of nonprofits are small. In terms of employment, 39% of nonprofits that have any paid employees have fewer than 5, as shown in this analysis from 2017.

However, if you’re planning to work in the nonprofit sector, chances are good that you’ll wind up at an organization that is a larger employer. 84% of nonprofit employees work at an organization that employs at least 100 people, and over half work at organizations that have at least 1,000 employees.

BLS analysis shows that the largest employers in the nonprofit sector tend to be in education or health care. In Wisconsin, 92.5% of hospitals are nonprofits, so that would hold true here.

The average wage tends to increase with the size of the organization, as well. This chart with BLS data from 2017 shows that while the average wage at an organization that employs 1-5 people was $37, 360, including both professional and non-professional staff, at a very large organization that average wage jumped to $65,330. For comparison, the average wage nationally in 2017 for all non-government jobs was $55,338, and $53,667 for nonprofits.

And in 2022, the median usual weekly earning for full-time workers was a healthy $1,163, higher than the median in the for-profit sector, and similar to the median in the government sector.

Among employer types, you’re more likely to hold a management or professional position in a nonprofit setting than any other kind of employer, according to BLS data from 2022. So it’s not surprising that nonprofit employees also tend to be highly educated — nearly 2 in 3 have at least a Bachelor’s degree, and more than one-quarter hold a Master’s. Members of the nonprofit workforce are also very likely to hold professional certifications. And this sector can also bring a great deal of flexibility as an employer – more than 19% of people employed by nonprofit organizations work part time. Only people who are self-employed have a higher proportion of part-time workers.

In short, not only can one find paid employment within the sector, it is one in which many people find and build fulfilling careers.

For resources on finding nonprofit jobs in the area, see our post

For information about educational programs at UW-W that focus on nonprofit management, see

25 Apr

Membership in Nu Lambda Mu, national honor society for Nonprofit Management, open to UW-Whitewater students

The Nu Lambda Mu international honor society was established to recognize students studying nonprofit management at programs affiliated with the Nonprofit Academic Centers Council. Membership is highly selective, requiring a minimum GPA of 3.5 for undergraduate students. Now, beginning in spring semester of 2024, membership is open to qualifying students at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater!

In order to be considered for membership in Nu Lamdba Mu, students should be in their final semester (graduating) in one of the following programs at UW-Whitewater:

  • Management – Nonprofit Management Emphasis (BBA)
  • Nonprofit Management Minor
  • Nonprofit Management Minor for Business Majors

For more information about Nu Lambda Mu or any of the nonprofit management academic programs at UW-Whitewater, housed in the Department of Management, contact Dr. Ruth Hansen at .

Nu Lambda Mu logo
21 Apr

Remote Volunteer Opportunity: Library of Congress By the People Campaigns

One aspect that is important for both professional historians and public understandings of American history – and how we understand who we are as a people – is the ability for the public to access the documents that are housed in the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress has digital collections of American History; Government, Law & Politics; Social & Business History, and other themes available for members of the public to freely access primary texts. But of course many of these documents were originally hand written, requiring transcription.

This provides an opportunity for remote volunteers. The Library of Congress invites members of the public to help transcribe historical documents, and review the transcriptions others have done. Current campaigns include American Federation of Labor (AFL) Letters in the Progressive Era, which “coincided with widespread industrialization, urbanization, and immigration, all of which intersected with a burgeoning civil rights movement and a cresting women’s suffrage campaign.” Others focus on the papers of Clara Barton, nurse, philanthropist, and founder of the American Red Cross; Frederick Douglass, abolitionist, social reformer, and diplomat; and presidents James Garfield and Theodore Roosevelt.

As a scholar of nonprofit management and fundraising, I frequently see stories about topics like crowdsourcing, or remote volunteering trends such as “clicktivism.” As the ability to read cursive becomes a special skill, documents that illuminate the experiences of people whose actions led to women’s suffrage, civil rights, and other political and social movements risk being further removed from our common narrative as a nation. The By the People campaign is one way for people to volunteer some of their time to help expand access to these documents, regardless of geography or mobility. Even short periods of time combine with others’ work to contribute to digitizing collections.

If this type of service is attractive to you, you can find out more from the Library of Congress. A complete list of LOC By the People campaigns is at . Resources for transcribers are also available.

28 Sep

Whitewater Represented at Wisconsin Nonprofit Summit

From July 27-28, representatives of Wisconsin’s nonprofit sector convened for the Wisconsin Nonprofit Summit, organized by the Helen Bader Institute for Nonprofit Management at UW-Milwaukee. The Summit featured national-level speakers and three learning tracks: Leadership, Financial Sustainability, and Marketing and Communication. UW-Whitewater faculty contributed two sessions:

• Creativity, Curiosity, and Innovation – Oh My! (Megan Matthews, Senior Lecturer)
• A Stakeholder Management Process for Ethical Fundraising (Ruth Hansen, Director, Institute for Nonprofit Management Studies, and Assistant Professor)

The Institute for Nonprofit Management Studies at UW-Whitewater sponsored five scholarships for students, alumni, staff, and community members involved in nonprofit services. Scholarship recipients had this to say about the experience:

Heather Ackerly, Annual Giving Manager, UW-W
The best thing about attending the WI Nonprofit Summit was meeting other nonprofit professionals. It was invigorating to meet other people dedicated to making the world better. It was also so helpful to learn from the presenters and other attendees new ideas and best practices.

Madison Adams, UWW student
The most beneficial thing for me at the WI Nonprofit conference was connecting with professionals in this field. They helped me understand what steps they took to become successful leaders in their organization and how I can do the same.

Bradley Jason Burt, UWW alumnus
The best thing about the WI Nonprofit was connecting with professionals and receiving opportunities to pitch ideas after each session. The event connected me with the right people to take my nonprofit into the next phase. I learned there are three phases of development: executive/forming, governance, and strategic. I now have some insight into where to turn next and will be taking my nonprofit into the governance phase seeking funding for launching my community engagement eNewsletter and helping my class reunion start up a philanthropy stepping in as our class secretary. The summit was a much-needed catalyst.

Sydney Johnson, Director of Case Management, Bethel House, UWW MSW student
The best part about the Wisconsin Nonprofit Summit was learning how to advocate as an organization about policy.

Hayley Pfaff, UWW student
The best thing about going to the WI Nonprofit Summit was having the opportunity to hear from nonprofit professionals who are currently working in positions I would like to be in a few years down the road. Hearing professionals share their perspectives through both formal and informal conversations has affirmed my desire to serve our communities in the future. Aside from learning about current hot topics across NPOs, I enjoyed hearing about some of the less talked about drivers of success in the nonprofit space that are becoming increasingly more relevant.

Wisconsin is home to more than 36,000 nonprofits employing nearly 12% of the state’s workforce (WI Nonprofits in Brief, 2019).

Located within UW-W CoBE’s Department of Management, the Institute for Nonprofit Management Studies promotes the study and practice of nonprofit management at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and within the larger community. The Institute focuses on relevant research, energized education, and community co-production to strengthen Wisconsin communities.

UWW scholarship recipients Madison Adams, Heather Ackerly, Hayley Pfaff, Bradley J. Burt, and Sydney Johnson, joined by Jessie Dugan of Whitewater (3rd from right).

There’s no time like selfie time!

Heather Ackerly captures Maddy Adams, Ruth Hansen, and Hayley Pfaff

27 Jun

Spotlight on Nonprofit Management Faculty

The How I’m Spending my Summer edition!

Megan Matthews, Senior Lecturer
Coolest place visited: Chico, California, and the giant redwoods
Quirkiest thing I saw: The national YoYo Museum in Chico, CA

Dropping some knowledge: Sharing thoughts on fostering a culture of creativity and innovation in nonprofit organizations with educators at the Nonprofit Academic Centers Council (July 19-22) and with organizations at the Wisconsin Nonprofit Summit (July 27-28).
Looking forward to fall: Teaching a freshman “innovators” learning community

Ruth Hansen, Assistant Professor
Coolest place visited: Wyalusing State Park and the Mississippi River
Quirkiest thing I saw: My sister’s team (Red Sox) beat my team (White Sox) – but there were fireworks, so it’s all good

Dropping some knowledge: Sharing a stakeholder informed process for ethical fundraising with organizations at the Wisconsin Nonprofit Summit (July 27-28).
Looking forward to fall: Planning a nonprofit sector travel trip to England for spring semester of 2025

Wish you were here!

09 Dec

Looking for Work in the Nonprofit Sector?

If you are looking for a position in the nonprofit sector, you may find these sites helpful:  – Madison area fundraising positions – Milwaukee area fundraising positions – Chicago area fundraising positions – Nonprofit jobs in Wisconsin

17 Aug

Dr. Ruth K. Hansen Appointed New Director of the Institute for Nonprofit Management Studies

The Institute for Nonprofit Management Studies welcomes new Director Dr. Ruth K. Hansen, Assistant Professor of Management in the College of Business and Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Dr. Hansen assumed the responsibilities of director in July 2022. Dr. Hansen earned her Ph.D. from Indiana University in 2018; her research focuses on the theory and practice of fundraising, stigma, and equity and inclusion in resource mobilization. She joined UW-Whitewater in 2016, teaching courses on nonprofit organizations, fundraising, organizational behavior, and research methods.

Dr. Hansen has more than 20 years’ professional experience as a fundraiser, and is a former board member of the Chicago chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). Recent publications include “Applying a stakeholder management approach to ethics in charitable fundraising,” published in the Journal of Philanthropy and Marketing and “Gary Neighborhood House: Managing mission and uncertainty in the Civil Rights era,” in the edited volume Hoosier Philanthropy, due out this fall. She contributed the chapter, “Theory in Fundraising,” to the new edition of  Achieving Excellence in Fundraising,  which was featured on Bill Stanczykiewicz’s First Day Podcast from The Fundraising School.  Her research with Dr. Lauren Dula on fundraising appeal letters, supported by the AFP Foundation, was the subject of a recent article in Successful Fundraising.

The Institute for Nonprofit Management Studies thanks Dr. Carol Brunt  for her service as the inaugural Director of the Institute from 2018-2022. During her tenure, UW-Whitewater developed new academic programs for the study of nonprofit management. A scholar of international development and nonprofit management education programs, Dr. Brunt’s knowledge and efforts have been instrumental in the development of the Institute for Nonprofit Management Studies.  In addition to establishing new academic programs, other key accomplishments of the Institute have included visiting faculty speakers; cross-campus collaboration on Wisconsin-focused nonprofit sector research; annual Careers in Nonprofits events; and an internship program that supports student experiences in local nonprofit organizations. Dr. Brunt convened the core staff of the Institute, which also includes Megan Matthews and Kristen Burton. Many thanks to Dr. Brunt for her dedicated service.

Located within UW-W CoBE’s Department of Management, the Institute for Nonprofit Management Studies promotes the study and practice of nonprofit management at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and within the larger community. The Institute focuses on relevant research, energized education, and community co-production to strengthen Wisconsin communities.

For more information about the Institute, connect with us!

22 Feb

Meanings of “Community” in Fundraising

By Ruth Hansen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

The idea of “community” is an important one to those who engage in philanthropy, whether as donors, volunteers, fundraisers, or in another capacity. Years ago, when I chaired the marketing committee for the Chicago chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, our membership advertisement ran with the headline, “Philanthropy Builds Community.”

But what do we mean by “community”? Social psychologists find that we use “community” to refer to shared social norms, social bonds, location, behavior, or even to a situation that provides what we need to live a good life.[1] The experience of feeling a sense of community includes both feeling like we have what we need, but also feeling a sense of responsibility for others, which tracks well with our ideas of philanthropy.[2]

In a recent study, I explored how fundraisers used the word “community” when talking about their craft.[3] The most common meanings were:

  • People within a geographic area
  • A geographic location
  • The circumstances within which people live
  • A broader group of people, not affiliated with the fundraiser’s organization
  • A group with something in common, such as a profession, ethnicity, a shared interest, not necessarily bound by geography

The way fundraisers spoke about “community” also revealed some defining expectations.

  1. Community is something to which one contributes.
  2. A community provides social and/ or financial support to its members.
  3. Community involves an expectation that all who contribute will also benefit in some way – in other words, there is an expectation of reciprocity.
  4. People within communities interact with each other.
  5. Community requires (and may foster) social cohesion.

It’s easy to think of fundraising narrowly in terms of seeking financial resources to accomplish a charitable purpose. But that sense of responsibility for others, that mutuality in providing what we collectively need to live a good life, is an aspect that ties philanthropy and community together and presents them as a gift to benefit everyone who participates.

If you’d like to hear more, click here for a recording of my Lightning Talk at the UW-W Andersen Library.

[1] Mannarini, T., & Fedi, A. (2009). Multiple senses of community: The experience and meaning of community. Journal of Community Psychology, 37(2), 211-227.

[2] Nowell, B., & Boyd, N. (2010). The theoretical roots of psychological sense of community. Journal of Community Psychology, 38(7), 828-841.

[3] Hansen, R.K. (2020). Constructing “Community” in Fundraising Communications: Implicit Meanings and Mechanisms. Paper presented at ARNOVA Conference (virtual), November.

27 Jan

The Impact of Internships

The Nonprofit Management program at UW-Whitewater offers paid internships for students in the emphasis to provide real-world experience that complements classroom instruction. December 2021 graduate Theresa Mendoza, and senior Rebecca Cohen had the following to say about the impact of their internships.

“My internship with Meals on Wheels has been the most influential of my previous coursework. I’m thankful to have been able to play a part in ensuring over 800 clients receive their meals from a friendly face at their door every day. I worked with the Volunteer Coordinator to manage the 60+ volunteers that come through the office daily, assisted with planning and coordination of a fundraiser and a few events, and built a solid network base within the organization. I received firsthand experience in what a successful nonprofit organization looks like and how it operates. This opportunity has allowed me to set a standard when it comes to my work environment and the type of organizational structure underlying it. There were several times I recalled something I had learned in class as it applies to the moment. Navigating a work environment, working with a team to achieve a common goal, assessment of a situation and evaluation of what needs to change, and more enabled me to apply my classroom knowledge to real life circumstances. My time with the organization enhanced my professional and interpersonal skills and behavior in a work setting. This combination will help me better prepare as I enter the workforce after Graduation.” -Theresa Mendoza

“Throughout my internship at Bethel House, I have gained and developed so much in terms of my skills and just myself as a person. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and have accomplished things that would’ve seemed impossible to me a year ago. At the start, when I heard that Kristy (my supervisor) would be going on a 6-week sabbatical, I couldn’t imagine working without having guidance; but after a few weeks, I was able to do things on my own and became so much more self-sufficient! It was an unforgettable experience to be involved in the actual operations of a nonprofit and to have direct contact with the Board of Directors. During the duration of my internship, I became more confident, more skilled, and happier as a person. I’ve always wanted to help others and I am so grateful for my internship at Bethel House, where I can help make a difference in the community. Fast forward to the end of fall semester and I actually received a job offer from Bethel House to be their first employee! I’ve made so many connections and have had the opportunity to step into different roles during my internship, that now being an actual employee is a whole new experience in itself. I am beyond excited to see where this opportunity takes me and cannot wait to learn more and gain more experience with this nonprofit.” -Rebecca Cohen

If you are interested in the Nonprofit Management program, please contact Program Coordinator Dr. Ruth K. Hansen at If you are already a Nonprofit Management student and would like to be considered for an internship, please contact Internship Coordinator Megan Matthews at

16 Dec

Senior Brittany Marks Reflects on Internship with UWW Foundation

Brittany Marks

Overall, my internship with the UW-Whitewater Foundation, Inc. has been the highlight of this semester. I was able to learn so much from everyone in the office. I have had the opportunity to process donations, assist with mini campaigns, work on stewardship projects, and more. I have been able to practice the materials I learned last semester in my Fundraising for Charities class and experience everything first hand. This not only solidified my knowledge, but also helped me gain confidence in my abilities to apply the knowledge that I have learned to real world situations.

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