Got an Itch to Help Others? Don't Quit Your Day Job Just Yet...

Charleston exec Barbara Fowler tells you what nonprofits need most (and it's not necessarily a stacked payroll), and how YOU can boost your philanthropic bottom line


As a member of the Center for Women, I get to meet so many great, mature women who are at a “crossroads” in their lives and career, and some don’t see much opportunity ahead on the horizon. When we talk about what they really want to do, going forward, many say that they would love a new career, in the non-profit sector, helping people in some way, giving back to their community.


This is a wonderful ambition. But let me play devil’s advocate for a minute: Today, what do most, if not all non-profits need? Regardless of the cause they support, what is most lacking?


Think for a minute? What are they crying out for?




Government funding has been cut, contributions are harder to come by and to do what they need to do, they need additional CASH.  Usually, they have enough talent. What they need are financial resources.


And what do most women, looking into or changing a career need?




We need to make enough money to pay our expenses, educate our children, and retire—or at least have the choice to retire—someday. So, how can we as women serve both purposes?


We need to find work in growing fields that pay a living wage and give us opportunities for the future. Then, with some of the money we earn, we can give back to the non-profits we want to support through cash contributions and volunteering our time. Just imagine for a moment that you had the opportunity to work for a non-profit, earning $3000 a month or a for-profit company earning $4000. You could decide to give 10 percent of your income to your non-profit ($4800 a year) and still have an additional $7000 or so to invest for your future.


So, right now, where can we go to earn more money and how can we prepare to get there? Where are some of the opportunities?


I am going to highlight three.


1. Coding/Web Design/ SEO: Many people think this is a “young persons” career but it is not. Many people have come to this later in life and are doing well.  Where do you get training?  Here in Charleston, one place is Trident Tech and if you want to do this online, there are some excellent courses. A new one I heard about today is One Month Rails, but there are many others.


2. Nursing: There is a growing need for nurses and, based on our aging population, probably no end in sight. It does take longer to become a nurse and/or going into other health related fields and you may need some financing or scholarships. And you don’t earn money while attending school so it is not a choice for everyone.


3. Your Own Business: Become an entrepreneur. You won’t make a lot of money right off the bat, but becoming your own boss can have long-term financial benefits. You might want to start with some freelancing along with other work. At first, on the freelancing sites, you don’t make much money because you need to build your reputation. But look at sites like taskrabbit, elance and odesk. And Google is trying to help us with some free support for building and hosting websites for our businesses.


The story of John Templeton always inspired me. Templeton considered becoming a missionary in China, but he found he was ill-suited for it. So he came back here and grew his fortune in the stock market with Templeton Funds. With that fortune, he was able to help many people who needed his contributions.


Maybe not at his level, but maybe some of us can do the same and help those who need us.



BarbaraFowlerBarbara Fowler is a CMO and Partner with Chief Outsiders in the Charleston area. 
Follow her on twitter at @barbfow50 or contact Barbara at 908-956-4529 or email at