Bob Buford is serving as a contributing writer to the American City Business Journals.

Twice per month, Bob’s writing is featured in 46 Business Journals across the U.S. This week’s article features current Halftime Institute CEO and new author, Dean Niewolny. Dean’s debut book, Trade Up releases on July 18.

For a complete list of all Bob Buford’s articles in the American City Business Journals, CLICK HERE. 

5 Challenges When You Transition from Business to a Nonprofit

Jul 13, 2017, 3:05am EST

When you consider a significant career transition, you want to have an idea of what you’re getting into.

Though one might assume the “season of halftime” necessitates a seismic career transition, 60 percent of the Halftime Institute’s clients actually decide to stay in their existing careers, albeit with a new perspective about their mission.

Thirty percent decide to make the move to some version of a nonprofit role, using their leadership skills and experience. For many who make this particular transition, it is unsteady and, at times, even awkward. (Consider the enormous transition of President Donald Trump to public service.)

We shouldn’t be surprised by this. The fact is, the differences between the business arena and the not-for-profit world are stark and more than a little shocking.

A different focus

I made this transition myself a decade ago. Boy, was I unprepared for what was ahead for me once I closed the door to my corner office in the business world and began my work at a nonprofit.

Here’s what I found. First of all, while the business world has its own issues, there is no doubt about what the focus is: Make money. A lot of it. That’s the goal. Period. Keep innovating, keep outworking the other guy. Spend wisely. Be profitable. Keep your eye on the ball.

On the other hand, nonprofits can have many agendas working all at once, some in conflict with others. The goals can be less concrete and harder to see and measure.

Take churches and their denominations, for instance. Their goals can be many: feed the poor, educate their people about their faith, minister to the sick, help parents raise good and productive children, and on and on the list goes.

The end game is a veritable sea of moving targets, each with its own costs and each with department leaders who innately believe that the particular program that they are pursuing is the most vital.

The money and resources to do these things isn’t earned from profitable operations. They are dutifully donated by generous people who believe in the cause. There’s no profit to speak of and no outside pressure for the most part. You can’t just pull everybody into a conference room and make them do something…READ MORE