The Appeal: Many people want a career in which they can "make a difference." For many, that means a career helping manage a nonprofit organization that works, for example, on environmental issues, children's rights, or antipoverty campaigns.
The Reality: Many of your supervisees end up being volunteers, who, on average, tend to be less competent and reliable than paid employees. Also, much of the job often involves fundraising, which many people dislike. Plus, you're often expected to be so dedicated to the cause that you're willing to work long hours for little pay. Despite all that, nonprofit management jobs that pay a good salary are difficult to find, especially now in our slow economy—people donate less in tough times.
An Alternative: Do what Bill Gates and Warren Buffett do: Earn your pay in the private sector, and then donate time or money to your favorite nonprofit.