Guest Post by David-Anthony Gordon, a journalist writing for BusinessBecause.com. 

Gone are the days when MBAs were for those looking for a career in the private sector and MPAs (Master of Public Administration) were for those looking to work in the public sector. In an increasingly challenging global environment, MBA hiring in the non-profits has increased.

During any period of economic hardship, non-profits, in particular, must find creative ways to maintain their level of funding while also streamlining operations. Therefore, they are not much different from for-profits. Increasingly, many are turning to MBAs because of their strategic and analytical skills as well as their knowledge of the private sector.

According to Habitat for Humanity, around 10-12% of their staff worldwide have an MBA.

“We need to apply strong and sound managerial principles in managing the resources the organization is entrusted with,” said Katerina Bezgachina on why they hired MBAs.

A survey by Nonprofit HR Solutions showed that 44% of non-profits expected to create new positions within their organizations while 72% said they would not eliminate any positions. This reveals a confidence in the sector that current levels of funding can be secured or increased in order to facilitate new hires.

In the survey, health nonprofits were the most likely to hire new staff, with 62% of them saying they were looking to hire. However, only 30% of arts, culture and humanities organizations said that they would hire new staff.

Non-profits give MBAs the opportunity to utilize their skills and solve social problems. Apart from making a difference, non-profits are an attractive place to work because of their stable and social hours, their good benefits and flexible work schedule.

Liuichi Hara is a Grenoble Ecole de Management MBA and joined the United Nations in July 2012. He is now a consultant for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Copenhagen, Denmark. He was attracted to the non-profit sector because of the opportunity to take on larger responsibility and work on multiple projects. He said that he gained new experience, had more freedom and was able to work towards a goal rather than a bottom line profit.

“The MBA grooms you to learn how to tackle complex issues by structuring your thoughts and break problems down to its component parts,” he said.

“I believe MBAs have a lot to bring to the non-profit sector. MBAs can offer industry knowledge as well as best practices from their respective field that can help improve the non-profit sector to work better and more effectively,” he added.

Liuichi’s specialization in Technology & Innovation Management has been very beneficial at the UN. And he believes the non-profit sector has much to gain from the expertise from private sector professionals in the areas of technology, new product development and continuous improvement.

Triin Visnapuu, a HEC MBA, received the Mid-Career Service Award by the Volunteers For Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA) for her work with MBAs Without Borders in Morocco last year. She said that she chose to leave the banking industry because she wanted to give back and test herself in a new environment.

“I have to give a lot of credit to the HEC Paris MBA,” she said. “I believe the program has truly helped us alumni not only acquire good knowledge of the science of management and establish a highly international network we can tap into, but has also helped us to grow into being independent thinkers willing to venture outside the typical path.”

Triin decided to remain in Morocco after her project ended and now works as the General Manager of the social enterprise she helped to establish during her project.

Working in the non-profit sector can be both challenging and rewarding for an MBA. There are plenty of opportunities for MBAs to transform and enrich organizations and themselves using their business and private sector knowledge.

“The momentum between the private and nonprofit sector is very much different with the private being much faster to make changes,” Liuichi said. “Shifting some of the speed from private to the nonprofit sector would generate a great deal of impact as it would help accelerate implementation of vital projects.

What is evident is that today’s MBAs can shape tomorrow’s non-profits.

David-Anthony Gordon is a journalist writing for BusinessBecause.com, a professional news and networking site for MBAs and the business school world.