Community service and not-for-profit

Professionals is this field seek to provide services, awareness and advocacy to disadvantaged populations, community engagement, environmental problems and other issues of concern.

Sometimes referred to as the ‘third sector’, not-for-profit organisations can fill a need in the society that the government may not have the capacity to address. The community service or not-for-profit field operates a little differently than other industries. Organisations have unique mission statements and objectives for the purpose of their work, but most of them should have a dedication to the well-being and betterment of society and its population.

Since community service and not-for-profit organisations do not seek to make profit for themselves, funding is often a constant concern. Community service organisations look for funding by the governments to administer services to the population, or by private foundation grants and corporate social investment programs. Not-for-profits typically only keep enough money to pay employees and account for running costs of its operations. The rest of the funds raised should go towards offering training and services to the community it serves.

Due to the dependency on funding from external investors, the not-for-profit industry employs fewer numbers of professionals than other private companies. There are still numerous opportunities for employment, however. Careers in this field typically offer rewards other than financial. The pay scale for professionals compared with other industries is lower, however most individuals interested in careers in this field do it because they are dedicated and passionate about the mission, issue or population they work with. Some professionals may begin their careers working within organisations and eventually start their own private practice which offers greater flexibility and often higher wages.

Community service careers may not seem as competitive as other fields, however, due to funding concerns, organisations can only hire employees that are absolutely necessary to running their services and furthering their objectives. The not-for-profit field also requires highly skilled individuals to administer its programs. Professionals may need to illustrate a dedication to the field by volunteering or interning with particular organisations. Careers include positions working directly with patients or clients such as counsellors, case managers, rehabilitation drug treatment workers and residential care workers. Some of these positions require advanced degrees in counselling or social work areas. Other careers in the field include administration needs such as developing and evaluating programs and their impact in the community, advocacy work promoting laws and practices that benefit the community, and fundraising or development careers raising necessary funds and awareness of programs. While community service organisations do not seek personal profit for their organisation, individuals with business skills and background are also highly valued for their ability to manage the financial circumstances and survival of the organisation.

Related degrees

Related subjects

Professional associations and industry bodies


Australian Community Workers Association (ACWA)

Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF)

Australian Council for International Development (ACFID)

Australian Institute of Welfare & Community Workers

Community and Public Sector Union

Friends of the Earth Australia

The Wilderness Society

Skills and personality

  • Ability to plan and coordinate people, equipment, services and activities
  • Certification and education in specialised programs such as mental health, drug rehabilitation treatment, social services, etc.
  • Compassion and dedication to the population or community issue working with
  • Effective coordination and organisation capabilities
  • Enjoy working with people and promoting individual and societys wellbeing
  • Event planning skills
  • Leadership skills directing activities and events
  • Patience with population working with as well as funding concerns
  • Problem solving and analytical skills providing training and services to the community
  • Strong writing and communication skills