People who work in NGOs receive a salary

Working for NGOs, aid organizations & Co. - your job for a good cause

In addition to the possibility of redesigning a job from a purely organizational point of view, there is also the possibility of striving for a new focus in terms of content. Many people go home after work and ask themselves the question: What good have I done with my time today? Could I change something for the better? If these are the questions that concern you, then it can't hurt to think about a job in an NGO, foundation, or non-profit company. It is not uncommon for a job in this sector to be the start of a new career. A career that brings success on completely different levels.

But what exactly is an NGO and what can you expect there? Can you start there as a career changer or do you have to have studied something special? What do you need to be able to work successfully in this sector in the long term? And above all: where do you find these jobs? The road to jobs with NGOs is long and rocky. However, it is not uncommon for a fulfilling and exciting job to be waiting in the end. So it's worth going on a search. Here you can find the first information.

NGO or company: what does that mean for your job?

In addition to public institutions and profit-oriented companies, there is also a third sector: NGOs, which means non-governmental organization or in German non-governmental organization. These organizations, just like foundations, take on tasks related to the common good, but they are not organized by the state, but mostly in the form of an association (e.V.) or a non-profit company (gGmbH). Many NGOs still receive state funding, but are also financed through donations and other funding opportunities.

The content is diverse, but always serves the same goal: promoting the well-being of people (or, less often, animals). An NGO is also a non-profit organization, which means that no profits are made. This is monitored by the state, especially when granting subsidies. For you as an employee, that means a rather slim piggy bank. Candidates who move from well-paid areas such as IT or business administration to the NGO sector in particular expect a wage that is hardly comparable and is based on public tariffs.

In contrast to profit-oriented companies, the job description in job advertisements often reads more interesting than any gossip newspaper. Because of the lack of funds, many NGOs try to recruit employees who can be used in various areas. Above all, this means a lot of responsibility for you, but also a lot of meaningful, important work.

Working in an NGO: There are these possibilities

The jobs that are advertised are just as different as the organizations themselves. There are now some degree programs that deal precisely with the NGO job description, such as the master’s degree in NGO management or interdisciplinary public and nonprofit studies. Nevertheless, many positions are still filled by people with a traditional background. Regardless of whether you want to start as a fully trained specialist, as a part-time jobber or as a volunteer: Here you will find a few options.

  • Entry-level jobs. Many aid organizations are always looking for open and linguistically gifted people to win fundraisers on the street. This variant of cold calling is still the most popular means of NGOs to receive donations and to increase their visibility.
  • Part-time jobs. Whether alongside your main job, training or studies: a mini job in an NGO is the same as having a famous foot in the door. This is how you get to know the store and know whether working in a non-profit organization is an option for you.
  • Project work. Many specialized professionals who work freelance also support foundations or aid organizations with their specialist knowledge. You don't earn as much as you do with your other customers, but you actively work for people.
  • Internships. Just like with part-time jobs, this variant is also an excellent way to expand your network. One disadvantage: internships with NGOs are almost never paid. This is particularly expensive for international assignments.
  • Full time jobs. Don't mess, but plop? Working full-time in NGOs is quite possible. Here you invest all your time and know-how in the advancement of an NGO. It is not uncommon for you to be deployed in international networks.

Non-profit jobs: what should you bring with you?

Foundations and NGOs differ from companies not only in their titles. Due to the non-profit orientation, the internal structures are often different than you may be used to. The following characteristics will help you determine if a job with an NGO is right for you.

✔  Teamwork. Especially for people who come from the private sector, the structures within an NGO are sometimes unfamiliar. Hierarchies are written in small letters and solutions are generally worked out together. That requires quite a bit of interpersonal skills.


✔  Patience. Fundraising and public grants also mean a certain amount of dependency. It can take months before the funding notification is through.


✔  Self-organisation. Operating instructions and exact daily routines are seldom found in an NGO. Instead, we are happy to offer creative solutions and learning by doing. As an independent person, you get along very well.


✔  Flexibility. The new project is not being funded, is it? Or another suddenly gets a higher priority? Your NGO is international and you have to travel more? Here it is important to respond flexibly to changes.

Your job at an NGO: You can find it here

The fact is: More people apply for advertised positions at NGOs than for positions in the private sector. The tasks are simply too exciting, the field of work too international and the content too meaningful for you to expect no competition here. Nevertheless, the intensive search for a job in the third sector is worthwhile, because once you get into it, your effort has been worth it.

The only important thing in your step towards work for people is to look in the right place. Avoid the big search engines and look for special job boards like Epojobs. You will also find out about interesting job offers by asking around. If you also invest time in your personal NGO network, sooner or later the job will work for a good cause. I wish you success!