I entered the non-profit field in 1993 by chance. I moved from the East Coast to the West Coast and wound up at a temp agency that sent me out on an interview for a non-profit that trained women business owners how to start and manage a business.
I came from the computer industry, and purposely set out to find a job that dealt with people and not machines, although my computer skills helped a lot in the early days. I tended to be the most tech-savvy person in the organization.
The relationships I formed in my first job led to jobs at other non-profit organizations. I began as an administrative assistant, and am now the Director of Operations at the Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI).
I started working for CCI when it opened its doors to the public in 2002. In the beginning, it was just me and the Executive Director, along with some great consultants. We have since grown to a small staff of six in two offices.
As the Director of Operations and Member Services, I wear many hats, and every day is different. Some days are focused on managing the day-to-day operations of both our Los Angeles and San Francisco offices, and can include payroll, invoices, human resource tasks and everything in between. When working in a small non-profit organization, titles take on a new meaning. It is all about being flexible and sometimes being the "Chief Bottle Washer."
As the Director of Operations, I work closely with our President and CEO and the entire staff. Even though I am not ultimately responsible for a specific program, I am involved in all the programs offered at the Center for Cultural Innovation. I help with writing grants, reporting on grants, website updates, training programs, grants programs, professional development programs and any other project we take on.
To keep track of all that is going on, I rely heavily on Microsoft Outlook. I am the queen of "ticklers," to make sure what needs to get done gets done. I use all of the other Microsoft products in addition to Outlook. CCI also uses third party software for membership, workshop scheduling and grant programs. This is where my computer background helps, as I learn new software quickly.
Being flexible and paying attention to detail are going to be your saving grace. There are a lot of moving parts in play, so you need to prioritize your time and make changes accordingly. So, if you are easily frustrated, this is not the job for you. You will also do a lot of on-the-job learning while working at a non-profit as sometimes you need to learn a new system, topic or software, because there may not be funds to hire a specialist in all areas. But that is a good thing as you will be well-rounded with your skills.
Luckily, this is something I like to do and would be bored if I did the same thing day in and day out. Working for a non-profit is rewarding, and I like the flexibility. But, at times, it can be very demanding. You will never work harder.
When you are looking for a job, whether it is at a non-profit or for-profit company, make sure you will be doing something that you love to do, as you will be spending a majority of your time there. Los Angeles has some good resources for finding work in an arts-related non-profit or in the arts in general, including the Los Angeles County Arts Commission Yahoo group, LA Culture Net, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/laculturenet. Best of luck!
Lauren Bailey has extensive experience in organizational management and administration, including eighteen years experience on behalf of non-profit organizations. She has extensive experience in membership and product sales, database development and management, and both online and offline marketing. She is a graduate of Worcester State College with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.
The Center for Cultural Innovation promotes knowledge sharing, networking and financial independence for individual artists and creative entrepreneurs by providing business training, grants and loans, and incubating innovative projects that create new program knowledge, tools and practices for artists in the field.