5 Things to Put on Your Resume to Get a Green Non-Profit Job

Lacking the five years of experience, Masters degree, and other checklist requirements to get that green fundraising job you want? Don’t worry! Most non-profit fundraising jobs require someone with skills outside of what can be quantified on a list anyway.

The key is to know what those unquantifiable skills are and how to prove that you have them. If you can’t fit the cookie cutter mold of the perfect paper candidate for your ideal job, make yourself stand out by highlighting your prowess in the following five areas.




1. Knowledge and passion for green

Most green non-profits only want people that are passionate about the cause, and they might overlook that you only have 2 of the 5 years of experience necessary if you demonstrate that passion. Don’t ramble about how you want to save Mother Earth to tap into your long lost tree-hugger soul, but rather demonstrate your passion through knowledgeable commitment.

  • List academic work you did in college that was green-related even if your major was something completely unrelated (like Physics).  List that you wrote a term paper about ecosystem service payments for your economics 102 course, for example, or that you helped find funding for more campus recycling bins while on the sustainability committee for your student council.
  • Become a regular blog contributor to a green living site. Link researched posts you have made about particular watershed issues in your community, etc.  You can also send letters to the editor to periodicals about green issues and try to get a linkable publication on your resume!
  • Campaign for a green politician. Even if you just go door-to-door canvassing for a month, it will show you care enough to act for change and will learn about the platform to communicate for a candidate.

2. Technical ability

While you should demonstrate your passion knowledgeably, you should also show that you have very tangible technical skills to make yourself value-added to your ideal green team.  There are specific skills that greens might look for, including:

  • GIS, GPS, or any mapping experience. If you know how to use Google Earth, ARC, or any other GIS software, even if you will never use it in a fundraising capacity, put it on your resume. Many greens use geospatial referencing and can relate to how it shows you know how to think in a certain organized way.
  • Design software.  You can put together event invitations or any other number of fundraising communications in a pinch if you know how to use even basic design programs.
  • Wilderness experience. Were you an Eagle Scout? Can you sail a boat or know how to fish? Any experience you have where you integrated yourself with nature in a meaningful way will show that you not only are a self starting leader, but you connect with the natural world and are one of the greenies’ kind.
  • Facebook and Twitter guru. More and more non-profits are looking for social media experts to help them with their online fundraising strategies. Phrase that you are tweeting three hours a day while bored at your current job as “expert social media interfacer.”

3. Sales

Fundraising is nothing but sales. If you have some experience in sales, or marketing, even if it was just selling shoes while paying your way through college, make it look like you know how to persuade unlikely customers to buy a product. List skills like this, for example:

  • Lead sales representative for 8 of 17 months at Clickin’ It Heels. You can sell better than the rest and clinch grants and asks!
  • Designed a marketing campaign that produced 220% more clients for a boutique clothing shop. You know how to make something (their non-profit cause) appealing to a broad audience and draw in new interest.
  • Maintained inventory and revenue schedule for Barney’s Balloon Warehouse for 2 years. This demonstrates that you can successfully manage budgets.

4. Communications

All fundraisers need to be excellent communicators, both written and verbal. The best way to show that you know how to communicate is through providing a perfect, honed resume that is easily navigable, and also by writing a fantastic cover letter. Your cover letter, or cover email if you are emailing your resume, should succinctly link all of these skills together to demonstrate that you are a perfect fundraiser (even if you have never fundraised or worked for a green non-profit in your life). For example:

– Thank you for reviewing my attached resume in consideration for the Development Associate position at Wild Hearts Nature Center. You will see that I am not only committed and knowledgeable about wildlife and the cause to protect our precious native species, but I am a skilled sales representative and communicator with tuned technical skills to raise the money you need!

– My seven years as lead sales representative for Clickin’ It Heels show that I know how to get new clients to invest in your cause. I increased sales by 175% in 2 years, equivalent to a turnaround in the non-profit world of increasing your gift revenue from $200,000 to $350,000! I managed all administrative aspects of that marketing budget as well, with Microsoft based software systems.

– While I have volunteered as a Snowy Owl-keeper for five years, I have been searching for the perfect opportunity to apply my sales and administrative skills to my personal passion for wildlife conservation. To that end, thank you again for considering me for your Development Associate position.

5. Persistence

Good fundraisers are persistent and optimistic to a fault. They hear “maybe” in every “no” and cheer for 20% success rates. You need this quality if you want to work in fundraising, for both your job and your sanity. Hints to make yourself look persistent and optimistic, even if you have never worked a day in fundraising are:

  • Add a volunteer experience where you work for a seemingly hopeless cause. If you work or have worked with the elderly on the verge of death, abused animals, or ex-cons studying for their GED, you show that you see hope where others see pain, loss and helplessness.

    You are optimistic and persistent in believing in the condemned and will put your energy into the small likelihood that your effort will make a difference!

  • List your hobbies for marathon running, long distance hiking, or mountain climbing. You will show that you stick through physical pain and displeasure to reach a pinnacle, making yourself succeed above all odds.

Even if you have worked in a shoe store all your life and are just wishing to make a change to a more meaningful job, have a fundraiser’s optimism that you can sell yourself into that position by focusing on the unpublished needs and wants of green non-profits and making your pitch!

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