Groups like the Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity rely heavily on technology to coordinate relief efforts around the world, and they're seeing an increased need for talented technology professionals dedicated to helping those in need.
"Anybody looking at pursuing a career in IT at a nonprofit has to believe in the organization's mission," says Rod Parks, CIO of the Salvation Army's Southern Territory. Parks joined the Salvation Army 18 years ago, after getting laid off as a technician at aircraft manufacturer McDonnell Douglas. He jumped at the chance to work for the human-services agency, founded in the 1850s by William Booth, a London street preacher, because it offered stability. He has stayed so long because, he says, he has a great respect and admiration for the organization's mission.
Many applicants looking to work for Habitat for Humanity International are IT workers who've had accomplished careers at for-profit companies and want to change gears, says Jim Thie, CIO of the group, which is community-based and dedicated to providing affordable housing to people all over the world. Habitat for Humanity was started in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller while they lived at a Christian farming community in Georgia.
Salvation Army volunteer from Canada went to Biloxi, Miss., to pack tubs of supplies for hurricane victims.
Photo by Rogelio Solis/AP
Typically, IT pros at nonprofit groups earn less than their for-profit counterparts. According to a recent InformationWeek survey, CIOs at nonprofits have a median salary of $110,500, compared with CIOs at for-profit companies, who earn a median salary of $125,000.
"They can't be in it for the pay," Parks says. "The reward has to be in the work that you do."
Thie suggests that anyone interested in a career at a nonprofit should volunteer with a few organizations to get a feel for their missions.
Habitat for Humanity is always looking for volunteers to assist with its housing projects, and anyone interested can sign up on its Web site, www.habitat .org/getinv. One of the group's job postings says it's looking for a Web technician to fill a job that was formerly a volunteer position.