Brave New (Not-for-Profit) World
e nonprofit sector is a diverse
one. From child advocacy clinics to medical research foundations, animal rights groups to after-school literacy programs, faith-based initiatives to downtown redevelopment, the not- for-profit sector encompasses all facets of activism.
Traditionally, social workers have played a large role in the nonprofit world. However, with the growing intersection of public, private, and nonprofit institu- tions, many nonprofits are adopting newer, “business-centered” models.
Not-for-profit organizations are learning from the business sector and often recruiting professionals from the business world. In this dynamic and swiftly evolving brave new nonprofit world, is there still a need for social workers?
e answer is a resounding yes. e social work
imperatives of social justice, empowerment, and en- hancing human well-being are paramount, and only by continuing to maintain a strong presence in the nonprofit sector can social workers ensure that these values are brought to the table.
Particularly as nonprofits focus on efficiency, social workers can help ensure that nonprofits don’t lose sight of the heart and soul of the work so vital to each nonprofit’s mission.
SOCIAL WORKERS’ INTERDISCIPLINARY NEED
Clear as the importance of the social work perspec- tive is to social workers within the increasingly business-focused nonprofit realm, how can we con- vey to other nonprofit professionals the necessity of social workers’ continued involvement in the sector?
While social workers bring important insights to the table, it is increasingly important that they also bring to the table a sophisticated knowledge of the nature of the field and an ability to understand and articulate some of the basic principles of the business world.
Whether their practice is micro or macro in nature, all social workers need a degree of proficiency in navigating the nonprofit world. Gaining exposure beyond the social work sphere and building relation- ships with professionals from diverse backgrounds will strengthen the credibility and impact of social workers entering the modern not-for-profit world.
THE ROLE OF THE NPM
Building this toolkit may seem daunting, but the University of Michigan’s Nonprofit and Public Management Center (NPM) is in place to support students interested in the nonprofit and public sectors to pursue opportunities for well-rounded development.
e mission of NPM is to equip future leaders in
the private, public, and nonprofit sectors with inter- disciplinary insight that can help them operate more effectively when working for or collaborating with nonprofit and public institutions.
Since NPM is itself a collaboration among the School of Social Work, the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, and the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, NPM offers access to the broad spectrum of nonprofit roles.
PEER CAREER COUNSELING
e Peer Career Counseling Program is one of the
NPM’s newest initiatives. NPM’s counselors receive the same training as the Ross School of Business Of- fice of Career Development’s peer career counselors, with an additional focus on the nonprofit and public managements specific to NPM’s constituency.
NPM counselors are available for one-on-one coun- seling sessions with students interested in careers in the nonprofit sector. Whether students are prepar- ing for an interview, need help creating or revising their resume, or just want to start searching for job opportunities and options, counselors are available along every step of the way. NPM has three peer counselors: a Ford student, a Ross student, and a social work student.
e interdisciplinary emphasis of the peer counsel-
ors and the NPM offerings are a direct reflection of the center’s awareness about the interdisciplinary emphasis of the nonprofit field itself.
Social work students can learn from the education and experiences of their colleagues in the business and public policy schools. And other students and nonprofit professionals have plenty to learn from the commitment and social consciousness that social workers infuse into our collective work in the not- for-profit world.
Beth Kander is the 2006-07 social work peer career
counselor for the Nonprofit and Public Management Center. She is a present MSW student with anticipated graduation date of April 2007. Her concentration/ practice area is Management of Human Services, Community and Social Systems.
For more information about peer career counseling and other NPM services and re- sources, visit www.nonprofit. umich.edu.