10 Myths About Working In The Social Sector That Are Untrue

By Surabhi Nijhawan

The social sector is not running on volunteers. It is not all about giving dharna, not limited to society and people either. The social sector is not just charities and donations. It is a lot more.

Read on as we decode some of the misconceptions about working in the social development sphere.

1. Working in the social/development space is easy

Contrary to the general perception that working in the social sector is a cakewalk, it is as, if not more challenging. Like every other profession, there are deadlines and deliverables, and most firms here operate with limited resources.

2. Social sector organisations don’t pay well.

Many of the well-established organisations operating in the development sector compensate well. Although it is not fair to compare it with corporate salaries, slowly, the trend is changing.

3. Social work is only about activism or teaching kids

Most people associate social sector employees as activists. Whereas, working for a social sector doesn’t only entail that. Social sector employees are usual professionals going about their roles which could be HR, Project Management, Marketing or Tech. And, no, all social organisations are not education-centric trying to find a better way to teach kids.

4. The social sector operates as a charity

The common perception is that all organisations in the development sector operate as a charity. Grants and donations drive many social organisations, yet, many run like businesses that make revenue and are, or at least aspire to be, self-sustaining.

5. The social sector is  limited to international agencies.

The social sector is believed to be a space with big players in the market, mostly international agencies or the UN, but these establishments are only a small part of the ecosystem. There are several grassroots companies in the social sector – such as low-income schools, low-cost healthcare institutes that are working to solve various societal problems.

6. You are going to change the world in one day

It is true that working in the social sector is fulfilling. There are plenty of opportunities focused on diverse social issues. You will be providing infrastructure, helping children, working for climate change and renewable energy, but you won’t be solving any of these problems in a day. The issues are significant and aspiring to address them is a long, ongoing process. Bear that in mind, and you won’t be disappointed.

7. Working for a NGO involves fieldwork

Your job may or may not involve fieldwork. Not all of the social sector works in rural or peri-urban areas or small towns. It may be spread across larger cities and metros. Hence, it depends on your job profile whether or not you will be working in the field.

8. The social sector is only NGOs

The biggest myth about working in the social sector is that it only consists of NGOs. The social sector includes NGOs and social businesses/ social enterprises, many semi-governmental organisations and more. NGO is only a subset of the whole space.

9. You will have work-life balance

In the social sector, work-life balance is all about what you make of it. Some of the busiest people I know are working in the social development sphere.

10. You cannot do common good and make money at the same time

Well, the emergence of social business is precisely against this notion that one cannot do good and make profits at the same time. Social business is a cause-driven business. , Yunus defined social business as an entity created and designed to solve social problems and operates as a non-loss and non-dividend company

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