Most Important Keywords for the Nonprofit Industry

For Candidates


By our guest blogger, CareerTuners


Is your resume getting noticed? Recruiters and employers in the nonprofit industry rely heavily on Application Tracking System (ATS) software to analyze resumes and shortlist applicants. One critical way to optimize your resume for ATS is to add keywords.

Keywords are nouns or noun phrases that ATS algorithms “catch.” They help indicate to employers that the candidate has skills that match the job requirements. Common keywords include job titles, terms, tools, technologies, degrees, licenses, certifications, training, patents, publications, and locations.

There are two types of keywords. Hard keywords are those that can be quantified or that someone can take a test for, for example, the names of marketing analytics programs. They are the most important with respect to ranking in ATS. In contrast, soft keywords are abstract skills that are hard to test for, but are critical to succeeding at your job, e.g., strong interpersonal skills.

Below are some important keywords for nonprofit management positions, in bold.

Feel free to copy and paste these terms to your resume if they match your skill set.

However, merely mentioning these keywords in your resume is not enough. You must also write powerful accomplishments that highlight these skills. After each keyword are the most critical questions you should ask yourself before incorporating it into your resume:


Nonprofit Program Management

  • Project Management: What steps did you take to ensure on-time and within budget program delivery? How did you deal with scope creep? How did you generate stakeholder consensus?
  • Nonprofit Program Marketing: What campaigns did you launch to solicit donations and recruit volunteers? How did you expand the program footprint?
  • Community Engagement: What challenges did you address in developing collaborative community partnerships to organize large-scale fundraising events?
  • Policy Proposals Development: Did you research and analyze geographical, census, and state-level data to create policy briefs for various public health and social welfare issues?
  • Program Impact Evaluation: What metrics did you develop to measure program impact?
  • Budget Management: What steps did you take to drive revenue towards philanthropic activities?
  • Cross-Functional Collaboration: How did you build long-lasting collaborations with different stakeholders across the nonprofit landscape?


Nonprofit Operations Management

  • Effective Case Management: What challenges did you face in coordinating care and need-based service delivery for vulnerable community members and families?
  • Grant Management: What procedures did you develop to regularly collect from grantees? How did you mitigate risks? What challenges did you face in developing grant guidelines?
  • Data Analysis: Which tools did you use to analyze and synthesize qualitative and quantitative data?
  • Philanthropic Initiatives: What complex issues did you solve by creating philanthropic solutions?
  • Research: What steps did you take to keep yourself updated on the latest research and development?


In addition to these, consider carefully going over the job listing you are interested in for keywords. Which ones are you familiar with? Weave these keywords into your resume.

By asking yourself these questions, you will be able to uncover accomplishments that highlight your strategic leadership skills. This will not only optimize your resume for ATS-compatibility but also set you apart from other applicants.


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At CareerTuners, we help ambitious professionals land their dream jobs by providing professional, Applicant-Tracking-System-compatible resume writing services. Some of our other services include cover letter writing, LinkedIn profile development, interview coaching, and resume distribution. To check out our free resources and blog, please visit

Bristol Associates, Inc. is an executive search firm with over 50 years of excellence in recruiting nationwide. Bristol specializes in recruiting for the Casino Gaming; Facilities and Concessions; Food and Beverage Manufacturing; Hospital and Healthcare; Hotels and Resorts; Nonprofit; Restaurant; and Travel, Tourism, and Attractions industries.

If you’re interested in working with Bristol Associates, click here if you’re an employer or here if you’re a candidate.

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