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Do What You Love

Standish Executive Search works with many non-profits to place qualified people in leadership positions within their organizations. Many, if not most, of these candidates come from the “for-profit” world, bring valuable experience, and willingly accept a significant pay cut. So, why do the candidates make the switch?

We recently recruited a high-level executive from the corporate world for an executive position at a non-profit organization. She was at her former company for a long time and made a very good salary. However, the non-profit organization’s vision and mission were close to her heart. She decided to leave her high-paying job for less money, and she joined the leadership team at the non-profit. This candidate described working for this organization as “her dream job.”

This is not an uncommon story. The reasons vary, but we do see movement out of the for-profit corporate environment to the non-profit one. And it’s generally a win-win for both the candidate and the non-profit.

The non-profit gains the years of operational experience and “corporate practices” necessary to continue to build on its mission, and perhaps streamline and optimize its operations. New ideas and practices are introduced to meet and exceed their goals.

For the candidates, a meaningful position within an organization whose mission is close to their heart is a rewarding change in ways other than monetary. They may not make as much money, but they arrive at work with a renewed sense of purpose that may have eroded over time in their previous corporate job.

Plus, working at a non-profit often has other perks: the opportunity to help make the world a better place; better work-life balance; more “say” in the overall running of the organization; more opportunity to work remotely; and feeling truly valued. These reasons alone may be worth the compensation trade-offs.

At certain points in life, we all re-evaluate our priorities. While we still want to contribute something from our decades of experience, we also want to derive meaning from the work that we do.

More and more people are concluding it’s time to…

Do what you love.


Greg Mickelson is the Managing Principal of Standish Executive Search, a New England-based firm that advises business owners, executives and boards who are positioning their companies for accelerated growth, change or succession.

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