To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing this cover letter in the midst of an existential crisis. As an idealistic college grad, a humanities major with a desire to change all the broken systems in this country and the world, I could go on to describe to you my limited experiences, many of which have only been possible due to my privileged upbringing: my unpaid internships, my writing and tutoring experience, my liberal arts education. I've also worked hard, but I've always been able to pursue these dreams, unlike many of my peers for whom money must come before chosen career experience.
But none of these truths will convince you to hire me, because I am one of dozens of cover letters that you will receive today, in your 30k no-benefits full-time plus "Associate Program/ Program Assistant/ Education Coordinator/ Development Coordinator/ Social Media Associate" job that you needed a Masters degree and five years of experience to get.
The problem here is multifaceted: not enough jobs available in nonprofit organizations, unpaid internships that give higher income university students options to get involved that poorer students can't afford, not enough support for paid positions themselves. From limited resources to tax write-off systems that coddle the rich, to organizations that use the 501c3 designation to evade paying taxes, the weaknesses inherent in the nonprofit system severely limit the influence these organizations can have.
The problem here isn't a lack of motivated, capable and enthusiastic idealists like myself wanting to help make a difference. The problem is the unequal distribution of resources that have Wall Street CEOs, Hollywood stars and football players making more money in a week than social and community organizers working in community service and engagement nonprofits do in ten years. That is, if you can get hired in an entry-level nonprofit position, or even an internship that will pay for your Metrocard.
Applying for jobs in nonprofits and other organizations motivated to make the world a better place is pointedly mocked in an Onion article that perhaps says it all: "Nonprofit Fights Poverty with Poverty." See, I follow social media and understand how to use it 4 good. Check out my #twitterhandle. Social media is creating jobs in the nonprofit world #nptech, democratizing access to information in the digital world, where your donations are tax deductible.
The experience of applying for entry-level jobs in nonprofits has, like my administrative and blog-posting experience at my unpaid but rewarding internship with Organization A (reference letter attached, please shred or use as scratch paper to save resources), deepened my understanding of how undervalued working towards a more equal and just society is in our culture.
While Corporate Social Responsibility aims to create a new business generation of more socially engaged corporations, their giving campaigns come from money often made through exploiting others. While leveraging the power of multi-billion dollar corporations to fund good projects gives nonprofit organizations more opportunity and allows them to take less time and energy applying for grants that will give them the luxury of improving homelessness, the CEO of Chevron can go back to one of six mansions in his Lamborghini and sleep easy.
CSR helps nonprofits but it maintains the status quo. How about if instead of donating a fraction of their earnings, they just make less in the first place? How can the value placed on Hugh Laurie's salary for one episode of House ($400,000) be compared to the operating budget of an organization that helps rehabilitate disabled war veterans? Helping the world isn't competitive in the market. Demand for social services and unequal education will continue as the corporate structure of this country withholds the supply from the people who need it most.
And so, dearest potential employer, between my administrative, programmatic and communications experience, you will perhaps note my frustration with my chosen career path. I am passionate, I am driven, and despite the above, if given the opportunity, I will succeed in your organization. The world's problems are too pressing to wait to try to address. But in the meantime I will continue refreshing my inbox, waiting for your email that tells me I was "unfortunately not selected" in the "pool of highly qualified candidates" that applied for this job.
Thank you very much for considering my application.
All the best,