Graduate Careers: 5 Reasons To Work In A Nonprofit

Graduate Careers: 5 Reasons To Work In A Nonprofit

With a variety of opportunities available, choosing a career upon graduating can seem like an overwhelming decision. Many graduates know they want to make an impact, but have not considered a career within a nonprofit organisation. The nonprofit sector is sometimes known as the third or forgotten sector and many people, including graduates, do not think of it as a viable career option. It is often thought of as unfunded, unstaffed and underappreciated.

Therefore, why should a graduate consider working for a nonprofit?


1. Making a difference

Nonprofit organisations’ create a direct social impact. As a graduate, you will be working towards fulfilling your organisations’ mission and making a difference within society. You have the opportunity to contribute to solving social issues such as the housing crisis, inflation or the war in Ukraine. This will provide a great sense of purpose in your career, particularly when seeing the direct results of your organisations’ work.


2. Varied workload

Many nonprofit organisations have an “all hands on deck” approach, due to their smaller size. Oftentimes, you have the opportunity to try a range of tasks and gain experience in different areas within your organisation. This is fantastic practical experience, particularly straight after college when many graduates only have academic experience. This exposure could lead to gaining insight into different areas within your organisation, expanding your experience and improving your knowledge.


3. Growth opportunities

With this varied workload, employees in the nonprofit sector can gain experience in a range of areas. Gaining experience in a short space of time makes your ability to grow within the organisation more achievable. From our 15 graduates in 2021, a large majority were promoted to more senior positions within their organisation upon completion of their graduate programme.

4. Small team

The majority of Irish nonprofits are small to medium sized organisations. A benefit of being a graduate in a smaller organisation is that you gain exposure to senior members of staff more regularly than in larger organisations. This exposure leads to more learning opportunities from sector leaders. Another benefit of working as part of a small team is that oftentimes, there is a positive work-life balance as people, including staff, are at the centre of the organisation.


5. Job Opportunities

The nonprofit sector is a vital sector in Ireland, made up of 33,000 organisations, 170,000+ employees, 300,000+ volunteers and brings in an income of €14.2 billion per year. In fact, the sector employs more people than either the Agri-food or hospitality sectors. Therefore, there are a variety of organisations you could work for, from fundraising, advocacy, accounting, building surveying, housing and more. For Purpose graduates have an array of academic backgrounds. The most important aspect they share in common is their interest in pursuing a career with impact and helping to address social issues in Ireland.

Here are some of the organisations you can work with at For Purpose:

  • Tuath Housing Association
  • Foroige
  • Co-operative Housing Ireland
  • Epilepsy Ireland
  • Jigsaw
  • Aiséirí


About For Purpose Graduate Programme

For Purpose assists nonprofit organisations attract, mentor and develop the future leaders of the nonprofit sector. The programme connects nonprofit and charity organisations with talented graduates who are searching for purpose in their careers and the opportunity to make an impact on civil society.

Contact Us

If you would like more information, contact our Head of For Purpose, Rhonda Wynne, at

For Purpose Tuesdays with Emma Morgan Business Analyst Pobal

For Purpose Tuesdays with Emma Morgan

Emma Morgan, Business Analyst for Pobal, lead our For Purpose Tuesdays session yesterday. This was a fantastic opportunity for our graduates to learn from an experienced manager, business analyst and board member in the nonprofit sector, with specific experience in strategy, governance, development and support in recruitment.

Emma is one of our For Purpose mentors, with experience in professional development and people management. This was a great opportunity for some of our graduates to meet their mentor in person and learn more about her broader experience.


About Pobal

Emma Morgan For Purpose Tuesdays mentor

Emma joined Pobal as a Business Analyst in November 2021. Pobal works on behalf of the government to support communities and local agencies toward achieving social inclusion and development. They work in social inclusion, early childhood and education, community development, peace and reconciliation, equality, labour market supports and education and training.

Emma gave an overview of her experience in Pobal, focusing on the process of transforming policy into action. She provided a programme example within the childcare sector, describing the actors involved during the implementation of a policy. From the customer, through to the compliance and reporting stage, Emma outlined the project steps. Learning each step of policy implementation is extremely beneficial for our graduates, many of whom are interested in wider policy development in the nonprofit sector.


Graduate Interactive Task

Emma placed the graduates into breakout groups to participate in an interactive task. The graduates were asked to highlight a current societal issue which could benefit from government support. Afterwards, they dissected the policy into actionable steps. Once completed, the group had to present a summary plan to the rest of the graduates.

Each group presented their chosen societal issue from mental health, to the current housing crisis and more. This gave our graduates an opportunity to consider the most pressing issues in our society, how to address them and start a conversation with their peers.

The graduates finished their session by grabbing a coffee and donut, discussing their learnings from the session and catching up on recent work projects. Our For Purpose Tuesdays sessions are not only beneficial for graduate learning and idea generation, but for connecting on a personal level with other graduates in the nonprofit sector, particularly since Covid.

Learn more

We had a fantastic learning seminar with Emma, learning more about policy implementation in the nonprofit sector. To learn more about For Purpose Tuesdays and the structure of our programme, visit here, or contact Rhonda Wynne directly.

For Purpose Tuesdays Penelope Kenny 2into3

For Purpose Tuesdays with Penelope Kenny 2into3

We had our in-person For Purpose Tuesdays on Tuesday 13th September at our head office. We invited our graduates to learn more about governance from Penelope Kenny, Head of Governance at 2into3. Penelope spoke to graduates about governance in the nonprofit sector, outlined best practice for board members, and placed our graduates in smaller groups for practical learning.


Penelope Kenny, Head of Governance at 2into3

Penelope joined 2into3 last year as an Associate Consultant and is now leading the governance practice. Penelope is an experienced Chartered Accountant, with an extensive existing portfolio of directorships. Her experience also extends as Non-Executive Director, Audit committee chair and CFO, with a Certificate in Corporate Governance. Her experience is based upon embedding positive corporate governance practices into organisations, with a focus on business alignment and financial control.


What do boards do?

Penelope explained how board members have numerous responsibilities. They’re involved in the strategy, financial control and risk, creation of governing documents, policymaking, hiring and directing executive employees, amongst many other responsibilities. Board members have a fiduciary duty of responsibility for the corporation’s assets and its shareholders. A good board member must have integrity, leadership experience, and a commitment to the company.


What is ‘bad behaviour’ as a board?

Board members have a responsibility to uphold their position as a director. They are prohibited from benefiting where their personal interests and their duty as directors conflict.

Their position could be undermined by:

  • An undeclared conflict of interest
  • Undisclosed issues
  • Voting for personal gain
  • Not acting in the best interests of the company


Graduate Breakout Teams

After learning about governance, what makes a good board member and conflict of interest, our graduates were split into groups of 3 and asked to participate in “what would you do?” exercises. This allowed our graduates to think critically about examples of conflict of interest and how they would respond to a board member presenting a potential conflict of interest.



Our For Purpose Tuesdays with Penelope Kenny 2into3 session finished with a Q&A. Our graduates asked Penelope questions surrounding becoming a board member, the skills required, career advice and more. Penelope provided our graduates with useful resources for graduates in the nonprofit sector.


To find out more about For Purpose Tuesdays or the structure of our graduate programme, visit here.

For Purpose Tuesdays Graduate Programme Claire Sinnott Corporate Social Responsibility Manager Lidl Ireland

For Purpose Tuesdays – Corporate Social Responsibility

On Tuesday 14th June, our graduates attended an in-person event at our head office in Huckletree. One of our previous For Purpose graduates, Claire Sinnott, spoke to our current graduates about her role as a Corporate Social Responsibility Manager for Lidl Ireland. This was an insightful learning seminar for our graduates in the nonprofit sector. They learned about the pillars of CSR, what good CSR looks like and the incentives Irish organisations have developed to become more socially responsible.


What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

Claire described Corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a self-regulating business model that helps companies to be socially accountable to itself, its employees, stakeholders, and the general public. By practicing corporate social responsibility, companies can be conscious of the kind of impact they are having on all aspects of society. Corporate Social Responsibility has become more impactful in recent years as social impact is a pressing issue, particularly for young people.


What is good Corporate Social Responsibility?

Claire shared some examples of good Corporate Social Responsibility. The Guinness family are a great example of good CSR, even before it was a business concept. They looked after staff generously, invested in their local community and provided accommodation for their employees.  They understood what it meant to be a great family run business with a sincere impact.


Another example of positive Corporate Social Responsibility is Patagonia, the clothing brand. They make products with the aim that you’ll only need to purchase one item. This provides a much more sustainable brand, prioritising their Corporate Social Responsibility over profits.


Lidl Ireland’s Charity Partners

Claire then continued to discuss her experience as a Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Lidl Ireland. Lidl partnered with Irish nonprofit organisation, Jigsaw. They work together to produce mental health campaigns to help tackle Irish mental health issues. This charity partnership works for a variety of reasons.

The value of Corporate Social Responsibility for both nonprofits and communities:

  • Both the organisation and the nonprofit have a shared interest in tackling social issues, which can be addressed together.
  • Collaboration between fundraising managers and corporate social responsibility managers can achieve both business goals and address social issues
  • Organisations can provide value to local communities by providing office space for social engagement activities, youth clubs, groups and more. Companies can therefore have a connection to the local community which could lead to further outreach programmes.


Main Takeaways

Claire finished the session by discussing what Corporate Social Responsibility is not. It is not a marketing technique that can be used by organisations’ for a positive brand image. It is about positive outreach and organising outreach programmes that actually make an impact.

This was an extremely beneficial session for our graduates. They learned about Corporate Social Responsibility in great detail, received fantastic tips from Claire Sinnott, our previous For Purpose Graduate and networked with each other. Providing support for graduates during their roles through learning seminars and exposure to other nonprofit graduates is crucial at For Purpose.


We would like to thank Claire and all of our graduates who participated at our in-person event. We look forward to our next session! For more information on For Purpose Tuesdays, click here or contact Rhonda Wynne, Head of For Purpose.

Value of Graduate Talent in the Nonprofit Sector Ireland Graduates For Purpose Graduate Programme

Value of Graduate Talent in Nonprofit Sector

The nonprofit sector has experienced many changes in the past two years. With the impact of the pandemic and the current situation in Ukraine, our nonprofit sector has been placed under pressure. Considering these external factors, it may not seem like the right time to invest in graduate talent. However, with the sector currently under such strain, we need to ensure the future of the sector is in the hands of capable graduates who can cope with any future changes.

Value of Graduate Talent

Graduates bring a range of skills to organisations. They offer a fresh mindset, enthusiasm, flexibility, provide technical skills and are social media savvy. Both the public and private sector adopt graduate programmes as a means to build their talent pipeline. Therefore, it is crucial for the nonprofit sector to invest in them. As many nonprofits are expanding, the sector requires future leaders to grow with their organisation. Therefore, For Purpose aims to recruit graduates who are:

  1. Values driven

We look for graduates who are applying for the right reason. We recruit grads with a genuine interest in the nonprofit sector who can demonstrate this during their interview. Many have been active in their communities, volunteering or fundraising, or involved in advocacy and mentoring activities in college.

  1. Future-focused

At For Purpose, the majority of our graduates stay with their organisation upon completion of their graduate contract. This is extremely beneficial and a priority for many nonprofits, particularly at the moment with the current strain on many organisations’ services.

  1. Talented

We seek graduates who stand out in their application, and during their interview. It’s important for our graduates to embody both hard and soft skills, to be well equipped to enter the dynamics of a busy organisation. These transferable skills are particularly crucial in the nonprofit sector, where employees are often wearing multiple hats.


Consider a strategic approach to recruitment

Many organisations invest in graduate talent by attending careers fairs, university talks and more. These organisations invest a considerable amount into their recruitment drive. Oftentimes, graduates progress to senior management positions within these firms. This improves the company’s brand as leading in graduate training and recruitment.

We want the same for the nonprofit sector. For Purpose is continually targeting graduates on social media, partnering with gradireland and adding new aspects to our programme every year. Our aim is to retain talent within the nonprofit sector, just as other organisations are currently doing in the private sector.

If you are interested in investing in graduate talent for your organisation, and the wider nonprofit sector, click here for more information on our programme. Or, contact Rhonda Wynne, Head of For Purpose.

For Purpose Graduate Programme LinkedIn Group

For Purpose LinkedIn Group Launch

On 12th April, we welcomed our graduates to the first For Purpose Tuesdays in-person event. Our event took place in our head office, Huckletree on Pearse Street. Eilís, our Brand & Content Manager, and Shannon, Recruitment Coordinator, launched our new For Purpose LinkedIn group. We had a fantastic morning mingling with our graduates, learning about their roles, networking and participating in peer-learning.

LinkedIn Group Launch

For Purpose LinkedIn Group Launch

Our morning began with a presentation explaining the benefits of using LinkedIn for professional development. Many of our graduates currently have a LinkedIn profile, but do not use the platform to its full extent. Eilís outlined reasons we should continually use LinkedIn for networking, learning and career inspiration. She also shared some nonprofits who are currently active on LinkedIn and encouraged our graduates to follow them.

Shannon described what a great LinkedIn profile looks like from a recruitment perspective. She highlighted areas to focus on to improve your own personal branding and the importance of useful LinkedIn connections.

The presentation finished with the launch of our new For Purpose LinkedIn group. We were thrilled to share our LinkedIn group with our For Purpose graduates.

This group will facilitate:

  • Shared resources
  • Learning from peers
  • Assisting professional development
  • Tight knit community
  • Relevant discussions
  • Connections with past and present graduates

We shared the link to join our For Purpose LinkedIn group amongst our graduates, with an interactive poll to kickstart our discussion. We hope to share articles, webinars, courses, podcasts, videos and more content within our LinkedIn group.


For Purpose LinkedIn Group 2022 for purpose graduate programme

Peer Learning and Networking

Hereafter, the Management Team from 2into3 joined our session. This gave the graduates a chance to network with professionals, having 20-30 years’ experience working within the nonprofit sector. Networking is a crucial element of our in-person events.

We are delighted to commence in- person events with our graduates. It was a fantastic chance for our graduates to network, join our new LinkedIn group, share their own projects and converse with each other. We look forward to our next session!

More information on For Purpose Tuesdays, or contact Rhonda Wynne directly.

For Purpose Tuesdays Karena Walshe For Purpose Graduate Programme 2022 graduate seminar

For Purpose Tuesday with Karena Walshe

At our For Purpose Tuesday session, we were delighted to welcome our previous For Purpose Graduate, Karena Walshe. Karena presented to our graduates about her career development from consulting in the nonprofit sector to her current role in the tech industry.

Karena studied Classics and French at Trinity College Dublin. Upon graduating, she spent some years navigating through an extremely difficult market. Karena gained her first professional full-time experience through the For Purpose Graduate Programme as a Management Consultant with 2into3. When she finished her graduate contract with 2into3, Karena began her career with Web Summit as an Account Executive. Karena was soon promoted to Team Lead and is now the Director of Global Partnerships. Web Summit brings together the people and companies redefining the global tech industry. Web Summit holds events across the world: Web Summit in Lisbon, Collision in Toronto, and RISE in Hong Kong.

Tech in the Nonprofit Sector

Karena asked our graduates, “How can we strategically use the tech industry to impact our mission?” As our graduates all work in a range of nonprofits, it’s important to consider how we can use tech in our individual roles. The way we use technology has changed significantly and will continue to do so. Since 2020, we’ve switched to working from home, and have leveraged several technological systems to improve communication and productivity whilst doing so. Our graduates discussed how we could better use tech in our own roles, in fundraising, housing and marketing.

About For Purpose Tuesdays

We introduced For Purpose Tuesdays in September 2021 as a way of connecting our graduates from different nonprofit organisations together once per month. Our sessions have been extremely beneficial, thus far. Our graduates have learnt a variety of topics from fundraising, to the tech industry. We aim to provide our gradates with a varied knowledge of the nonprofit sector and beyond. More information on For Purpose Tuesdays.

More information on For Purpose Graduate Programme

If you would like to find out more about our programme, contact Rhonda Wynne or visit here.

Thanks for attending gradireland with for purpose graduate programme

For Purpose attends gradireland Live

On Wednesday 23rd February, the For Purpose team attended gradireland live. Gradireland is the perfect opportunity for students across Ireland to meet with prospective employers, discuss graduate programmes and consider career options.

For Purpose gradireland live 2022

Our Head of For Purpose, Rhonda and our Recruitment Coordinator, Shannon, met with students and explained different aspects of our programme. Several students had similar queries, some of which are listed below.


When can I apply to For Purpose?

Firstly, many students had queries surrounding when you can apply to For Purpose and if our roles were degree-specific. Our Graduate Programme is different to others in that there are job opportunities on a rolling basis throughout the year. Furthermore, most of our roles are not degree specific (unless specified). We consider relevant degree modules, work experience, personality and most importantly, your passion for the nonprofit sector.

Our team also provided advice to our students. It is important to read the desired skills of each role we advertise and how it matches to your skills and experience. Our team encourages students to wait until you are almost finished your degree, as we have graduate jobs available on a rolling basis. Most of our roles commence immediately!


What skills are required to work in the nonprofit sector?

Empathy, social understanding, interest in social justice. If you’re working for a nonprofit, you are working with a team to solve a social issues and you may work with individual who are vulnerable, requiring patience and understanding.

It is extremely important to have a genuine interest in the position you apply for, as this passion will drive you to succeed in your role.


Thanks to everyone who attended gradireland Live on Wednesday. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting you all and hope to see your applications for positions in 2022! More information on our programme here or contact Rhonda Wynne.

For Purpose Tuesdays 2022 peer learning session

For Purpose Tuesday 2022

Our first For Purpose Tuesday of 2022 took place yesterday, on 11th January. We were joined by two new graduates who have recently joined the For Purpose Graduate Programme, who are starting their  roles at 2into3 and Foróige. 

About For Purpose Tuesdays

For Purpose Tuesdays is the latest addition to the For Purpose Graduate Programme. The second Tuesday of each month is dedicated to professional career development for our grads. Each For Purpose Tuesday session alternates between Presentations and Workshops with sector leaders and Peer Led Learning, allowing graduates within different organisations to share their experiences and discuss ideas.

For Purpose Tuesdays was launched in September 2021 and a range of experienced nonprofit professionals joined our sessions. We are looking forward to welcoming more fantastic speakers to join our Presentations and Workshops in 2022.

Learning Seminar for our Graduates

We kicked off our first session with a peer-led seminar. This gave our graduates the chance to discuss how their roles have developed thus far, and what they would like to get out of the programme in 2022. Our graduates engaged in development plans for our 2022 seminars. Within the breakout rooms, graduates discussed seminar ideas, our new Linkedin group and aspects they’d like to learn more about during For Purpose Tuesdays.

At For Purpose, we believe it is crucial that graduates are heard and supported throughout their role. During our learning seminars, we aim to provide a safe space where graduates can discuss any difficulties they’re facing and share ideas on how to overcome them. The range of graduate involvement in our peer-led learning seminars allows more experienced graduates to share their learnings with our newer recruits.

Thanks to our graduates for participating in our first learning seminar of 2022.

More information on for purpose

For more information on For Purpose Tuesdays, visit here. If you’re interested in finding out more about For Purpose, contact Rhonda Wynne at

Why Your Nonprofit Should Consider a Graduate For Purpose Graduate Programme 2022

Why Your Nonprofit Should Consider a Graduate

Investing in a Graduate with For Purpose

The Irish nonprofit sector provides crucial work to our social system. Since the pandemic, the sector faces many challenges and added stresses. Therefore, in order to respond to these challenges, building further capacity within the sector is necessary. Considering recruiting a graduate may be of particular benefit to your organisation and the future of the nonprofit sector.

Recruiting graduate students could have a transformative impact on the nonprofit sector, enhancing innovation through new ideas, energies, and perspectives, and building strategic capacity and insight through specialist skills.

Many private companies have developed graduate programmes. However, certain nonprofit organisations do not have the resources to recruit, train and support their own graduates. We wanted to provide a solution to this problem. The For Purpose Graduate Programme was then established in 2012.

About For Purpose

For Purpose is Ireland’s Nonprofit Graduate Programme. For Purpose provides nonprofit organisations with access to a pool of ambitious graduates, striving to make an impact on society. The For Purpose programme is unique, as our graduates gain access to peer- to- peer networking, learning seminars and support throughout the programme. We develop our graduates’ potential and aid career development, helping them to become the best employee for your organisation.

For Purpose has three strands. We offer paid placement for your graduate, a monthly external mentor and professional development and learning. We assist your organisation with all three aspects and support your graduate throughout their placement.


Why should my organisation consider a graduate?

Graduates provide a unique benefit to your organisation through their skills, ways of working and perspectives. For Purpose asked a sample of their employer partners about the value of recruiting graduates and what they can bring to an organisation.

Some particular benefits noted was the access to:

  • Specialised and relevant skills
  • Current information and education
  • New or cutting-edge knowledge
  • Relevant disciplinary expertise
  • Academic knowledge which translates to work skills
  • Research capability: recent experience of doing research, analysis, data management, report writing
  • IT skills and social media savvy
  • New ideas and perspectives
  • Openness in ways of working – no hangs up or preconceived ideas about set ways or systems for doing things
  • Diverse ways of thinking
  • Approach to work: scientific method and good organisational skills
  • Social skills working with graduates
  • Communication and presentation skills which are valuable and necessary when out front representing organisations
  • Values and commitment to social justice matters

By investing in a current graduate with these specific skills, you will not only provide value to your current team, but also provide a greater impact on the future of the nonprofit sector.

Why partner with For Purpose?

For Purpose assists nonprofits in attracting graduate talent in numerous ways. We liaise with our partner organisations to learn what works with the programme. We ask our partners how the balance of work will suit the employer and the graduate.

For Purpose asked employers about the value of collaborating with For Purpose. Employers noted how the support For Purpose provided with the recruitment process saved time, as For Purpose screened the candidates and selected on the basis of skillsets and interests. Our partners were pleased with the calibre of candidate recruited, and the contribution the graduates made to their teams.

Employers particularly valued the external mentor and access to support, guidance and expertise, which is not available within their own organisation. A key dimension of the programme is the ongoing professional development provided through learning seminars, with access to peers in other organisations.

Previous employees describe For Purpose Graduate Programme

Colette Nolan, CEO, Peer Advocacy in Mental Health (formerly known as Irish Advocacy Network):

“We are a small organisation, all about providing a quality service. Funding has been static, so we needed to take a more active role in fundraising and looking at our presence in the media. It is necessary to create an awareness of who you are for people to trust you with their money. We didn’t have much knowledge or experience of this area.

We went to a graduate fair in the RDS and realised that people make professions out of these areas, and it would be possible to recruit a graduate to work with us. For Purpose provided a one stop shop helping to develop the role and job description, advertise, and interview. An organisation like ours couldn’t provide anything like the mentoring support that they support the graduate and the organisation. Therefore, this was of value to a small organisation, particularly bringing a completely new role into the organisation.”


Stephen Lowry, Fundraising and Development Manager, Epilepsy Ireland:

“We recently engaged the For Purpose team to run and manage a recruitment campaign to fill a newly available graduate position within our team. From our very first meeting with the team at For Purpose, they made the process incredibly easy. Having simply given them a broad overview of the role itself and the general competencies we were seeking from prospective candidates, from there the For Purpose team took complete responsibility for every stage of the process including drafting the job specification, advertising the role, screening applications as well as preparing us for the final stage interviews.

At the interviews themselves, the real value of For Purpose became apparent as each of the shortlisted candidates they had invited for interview were nothing short of exceptional. While this made the decision around which candidate to select an extremely tough choice for us (which perhaps was the only hard part of the whole experience) this was not a bad complaint to have. We were delighted with the entire process and could not recommend the services of For Purpose more highly.”

Support Your Graduate Investment

We have developed a support document to justify the investment to your board, if you’re interested in investing in a graduate and want to make a business case. For details, contact Rhonda Wynne or for more information on our services, visit our website.