The experience required of an executive in the nonprofit world is much the same as the experience required in the corporate sector, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, executives in nonprofits must know how to work with a largely volunteer workforce, have donor connections and be able to skillfully ask for money. They need the patience to work with a board charged with protecting the public interest and have to work efficiently and effectively with minimal financial resources. With these qualifications, finding an executive job with a nonprofit requires a combination of networking within the nonprofit community and using standard job-hunting techniques such as working with a headhunter and sending out resumes to the appropriate places.
Step 1: Take courses in nonprofit management, professional fundraising and the subject matter relating to the type of nonprofit for which you wish to work.
Step 2: Build a resume showing your work experience in both for-profit and nonprofit organizations.
Step 3: Identify the organizations that interest you, study their causes and operations and submit a well-thought-out letter explaining why you wish to work for that organization and how you feel you can help it grow and prosper. Include your resume.
Step 4: Visit with as many nonprofit organizations as possible. Ask for their advice on how to get an executive position in the nonprofit sector and if they know anyone you should contact.
Step 5: Send thank-you notes to all people you meet. The nonprofit sector is socially oriented, and a thank-you note will demonstrate that you have the social skills to hobnob with the socialites and philanthropists who are capable of making large donations.
Step 6: Use any opportunities you have to build your list of contacts in government and nonprofit organizations, as well as corporate and private donors and professional service providers that work in the nonprofit sector. Meet with these people. Take them to lunch. Go to their networking meetings.