John Guastaferro, Executive Director, Hyundai Hope on Wheels and Genesis Inspiration Foundation
Why should an individual consider a career in nonprofit management?
The nonprofit sector is an integral part of society, solving problems that other sectors aren’t fully equipped to do. It blends business with a sense of purpose. Beyond being a noble cause, the modern world of nonprofit management requires training and education deeply rooted in business, including strategic planning, finance, governance, and leadership. If you value harnessing business skills with the power of making a difference, then a career in nonprofit management can provide a fulfilling path.
What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of working in this field?
Working in nonprofit management provides a benefit that stays with you beyond the workday. You can rest your head at night knowing that you truly made a difference in someone’s life. You have the opportunity to focus on areas that mean the most to you, whether it’s youth programs, homeless outreach or senior care. Another rewarding factor is the camaraderie that comes from collaborating with likeminded, purpose-driven leaders.
Describe a day in the life of a nonprofit professional.
Depending on your areas of nonprofit work, a typical day may start with a virtual meeting with community partners you’ve engaged to tackle a social impact issue. You’ll gather feedback from multiple sectors and mobilize your team to put together a program plan and marketing campaign. Working with your board is also important, so this day may include coffee with a board member to gain added perspective. This may be followed by lunch with a donor who believes in your mission — and you use this time to thank them and invite them to be part of your upcoming progress for the year. A budget meeting likely fits into the day, followed by a site visit at one of your afterschool programs. There’s nothing like seeing a program in action through a child’s eyes.
Let me also say that there is often not a “typical” day. A nonprofit professional might be working for a grassroots nonprofit… or a corporate foundation focused on grant-making… or a nationwide movement focused on ending hunger. You have the opportunity to shape your own path that aligns with your skills and your inner purpose.
How do you feel the UCI Nonprofit Management Specialized Studies can benefit those seeking to enter or advance a career in this industry?
The UCI Nonprofit Management program gives students the tools they need to succeed in mission- focused and values-based organizations, large and small. The program helps students gain a thorough understanding of all internal and external factors involved, from marketing and communications to finance and strategic planning. The best part is that this curriculum arms you with transferrable skills you can take into the nonprofit sector or into the business world, advancing corporate social responsibility. It’s also a great place to either begin your work on the nonprofit path or revitalize your already burgeoning career.