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Should I Work for an NGO – Pros and Cons of a Career in NGOs

by Minoas Vitalis
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Should I Work for an NGO? Pros and Cons of a Career in the Nonprofit World

You may have considered a career in the nonprofit sector, but are unsure if it’s the right fit for you. Working for an NGO can be very rewarding, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. Here are some pros and cons to help you decide if a career in the nonprofit world is right for you.


  1. You can make a real difference.

Working for an NGO allows you to directly help those who need it most. Whether you’re working on projects that provide clean water to communities in need or supporting refugees fleeing conflict, you can feel good knowing that your work is making a positive impact on people’s lives.

  1. There’s a lot of variety.

No two days are the same when you work for an NGO. One day you may be writing proposals to raise funds for your latest project, and the next day you could be on-site meeting with beneficiaries to see how your work is making a difference. You’ll never get bored working in such a dynamic and ever-changing environment.

  1. You’ll gain valuable skills.

From project management and fundraising to marketing and communications, working for an NGO will give you a chance to develop a wide range of skills that will be invaluable in any career.

  1. You’ll meet amazing people.

One of the best things about working for an NGO is the people you’ll meet. From your colleagues to the beneficiaries you work with, you’ll be surrounded by inspiring and passionate individuals from all walks of life.

  1. You’ll get to travel.

If you’re looking for an excuse to explore the world, working for an NGO is the perfect opportunity. Many NGOs have projects in multiple countries, so you could find yourself living and working in a new place every few years.

  1. You’ll feel like part of a community.

Working for an NGO can be a great way to connect with like-minded people and feel part of a larger community. There’s a strong sense of camaraderie among those working in the nonprofit sector, as everyone is driven by the same passion to make a difference.

  1. You can make a long-term impact.

The work of an NGO is never done, but that’s part of what makes it so rewarding. Knowing that your efforts are helping to improve the lives of others, even in a small way, can be incredibly fulfilling. And because the work of an NGO is never done, there’s always room for you to make a lasting impact.


  1. Funding can be uncertain.

One of the biggest challenges facing NGOs is securing funding for their projects. Donors can be unpredictable, and funding can often be short-term, which can make it difficult to plan long-term projects.

  1. The work can be challenging.

Working for an NGO can be emotionally and mentally challenging. You may be exposed to difficult situations, such as poverty and conflict, which can take a toll on your wellbeing. It’s important to be aware of the potential challenges before you commit to a career in the nonprofit sector.

  1. The hours can be long.

Many NGOs are understaffed and overworked, which can mean long hours for employees. If you’re not prepared to work weekends and evenings, a career in the nonprofit sector might not be for you.

  1. You may not get paid what you’re worth.

Unfortunately, due to limited funding, many NGOs are unable to pay their employees competitive salaries. If you’re looking to earn a high income, working for an NGO is probably not the right choice.

  1. The work can be frustrating.

Despite your best efforts, there will be times when the work you’re doing feels like it’s not making a difference. It can be frustrating and disheartening to see the challenges faced by those you’re trying to help, but it’s important to remember that even small changes can have a big impact.

  1. You may need to relocate.

Many NGOs are based in developing countries, which means you may need to relocate if you want to work for one. This can be a great opportunity to experience a new culture, but it can also be a challenge, particularly if you have family or other commitments.

  1. You may not have job security.

As with any job, working for an NGO comes with no guarantee of job security. Funding for projects can be cut at any time, which could result in layoffs. If you’re looking for a stable career, the nonprofit sector might not be the right choice.

How to overcome the challenges that come from working at an NGO?

First of all, remember that you are not alone. Many people have gone through the same challenges and overcome them. Here are 15 tips on how to do it:

  1. Believe in what you are doing

The first step is to truly believe in the work that you are doing. If you don’t believe in it, it will be very difficult to stay motivated when things get tough. Remember why you decided to work at an NGO in the first place and let that be your source of inspiration.

  1. Find a support system

It can be helpful to find a support system of like-minded people who understand the challenges you are facing. This could be colleagues, friends, or family members. Lean on them for support and advice when things get tough.

  1. Stay positive

It is important to stay positive even when things are tough. Remember that the work you are doing is important and that you are making a difference. This will help you to keep going even when times are tough.

  1. Be prepared for challenges

Before you start working at an NGO, it is important to be prepared for the challenges that you may face. Do your research and try to anticipate what the challenges might be so that you can be prepared for them.

  1. Don’t compare yourself to others

It is easy to compare yourself to other people working in the same field, but it is important to remember that everyone is on their own journey. focus on your own progress and don’t compare yourself to others.

  1. Take time for yourself

Working at an NGO can be demanding and it is important to make sure that you take time for yourself. This could involve taking breaks, going for walks, or doing something that you enjoy outside of work.

  1. Be patient

The work that you are doing is important but it takes time to see results. Be patient and trust the process. Remember that even small steps can lead to big changes over time.

  1. Set boundaries

It is important to set boundaries in order to avoid burnout. This means knowing when to say no and setting limits on how much you are willing to do. Don’t try to do everything – focus on what is most important.

  1. Find a balance

It is important to find a balance between work and the rest of your life. Make sure that you make time for your family and friends and don’t let your work consume all of your time.

  1. Seek professional help

If you are finding it difficult to cope, seek professional help. There is no shame in admitting that you need help and there are many people who can support you.

  1. Take breaks

When things are getting tough, it is important to take a break. This could involve taking a few days off work or just taking some time for yourself each day. Breaks will help you to recharge and come back feeling refreshed.

  1. Learn from your mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes – the important thing is to learn from them. When you make a mistake, take some time to reflect on what went wrong and how you can avoid making the same mistake in the future.

  1. Be flexible

Things rarely go according to plan and it is important to be flexible when working at an NGO. Be prepared to change your plans if necessary and don’t be afraid to try new things.

  1. Persevere

The work that you are doing is important and it is worth persevering even when things are tough. Remember why you decided to work at an NGO and let that be your motivation to keep going.

  1. Enjoy the journey

Working at an NGO can be challenging but it is also incredibly rewarding. Keep these tips in mind and you will be able to overcome the challenges and make a difference.


Working for an NGO can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience, but it’s not for everyone. It’s important to be aware of the potential challenges before you commit to a career in the nonprofit sector. If you’re prepared for the challenges and ready to make a difference, a career in the nonprofit sector could be the right choice for you.

Minoas graduated with a Merit upon studying the full-time MPA Public Administration – International Development degree (MPA-ID) at the University of York. He is currently working as a freelance EU affairs consultant in Belgium.
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