I’ve been reading Marci Alboher’s fabulous book, One Person/Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success. The book is filled with stories of “slashes,” people who have created multiple careers in their lives, such as a lawyer/filmmaker, a hip-hop artist/investment banker, a minister/lawyer, a rabbi/comic…even a nonprofit director/accountant. Marci shares practical tips for people who want to add another career to their repertoire to fulfill a passion, make more money, or both. It’s really an empowering look at how we can “custom blend” our careers instead of being stuck with one label or getting pigeonholed into one role. The successful stories of the slashes in the book show that you can have more than one interest and try on different hats, and in the process become more fulfilled and financially stable. Some look at their slash as a part-time job, some build an entire second career.

So I’m thinking, everyone in the nonprofit sector should read this book. I mean, one of our major gripes with this field is that we don’t make enough money. If we can’t change that, adding a slash to our lives could help pay the bills. Also, many of us young nonprofit professionals are stressing out and burning out after just a few years of working in a nonprofit because we view our day job as our only option of living out our values AND providing a stable financial future for ourselves and our families. Marci’s book assures us that that is not necessarily the case. You CAN slash your life and become more self-sufficient and fulfilled as a nonprofit employee. Let me tell you about a few nonprofit slashes I know:

Kevin, a development director/yoga instructor
Ben, a communications director/aerobics teacher
Elisa, a program coordinator/adult toy party consultant
Rebecca, a program manager/property manager
Eric, a program manager/artist/graphic designer
Carol, a program director/financial planning consultant

All of these people are living out their values and earning a better living while working in the nonprofit sector. They all seem more satisfied with their lives because they get to be more well-rounded. My slash experience is the same. As a writer/teacher/consultant/fundraiser, I get to work in all of the areas I love and increase my nonprofit income at the same time. My day job provides the stability, health insurance, and connection to an organization, while my other endeavors allow me to be more creative and bring every aspect of myself into my work. if you’ve been stuck in a nonprofit rut, or thinking about switching jobs just to earn $5,000 more, I’d encourage you to think about adding a slash, especially if you want to:

Earn Supplemental Income
Working part-time at anything can add more Benjamins to your bank account. Just because you’re a nonprofit employee doesn’t mean you can’t have another job on the side to make ends meet or pay for your dream vacation. Stop working those late nights and weekends and devote that time to another paid position. Or you can start your own business based on your other talents or interests.

Explore Your Other Interests & Passions
Adding a slash to your life can open up exciting doors beyond your nonprofit role. I’ve met so many people that talk about things they used to love in college like playing music, doing art, writing poetry. If you’ve always had an interest, this might be the time to pursue it as an additional career. My mom worked in the corporate world and wanted to get back into fitness training. She studied the certification materials for three months, passed the test, and was all set to train clients. Once I took a job at a restaurant just so I could be a cook, which has always been one of my passions. I also worked at library part-time because I love to read and be around books. The sky is the limit. For every interest, there is a career just waiting to be found.

Develop Leadership Skills to Bring into Your Nonprofit Job
Being the boss in your slash life can help you find the confidence to lead more fully in your nonprofit role. People who have their own business might be more decisive in their day jobs because they’ve obtained the leadership experience in another setting. No matter what slash you choose, you are in charge of it, and that attitude can carry over into your regular working life, and allow you to think more like a leader.

If you’re thinking about cultivating a slash career, you may want to check out other resources from Marci at www.heymarci.com.

Do YOU have a nonprofit slash career or know someone else who does? What do you think about custom blending your career in the nonprofit sector?

imageRosetta Thurman is an emerging nonprofit leader of color working and living in the Washington, DC area.  She holds a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management and blogs about nonprofit leadership and management issues at Perspectives From the Pipeline.