Human Services Guide

The Importance of Organizations to Human Services

Without organizations, the goals of the human services field would be impossible to fulfill. Human services is a vast sector that includes a broad range of disciplines, knowledge and skills focused toward enhancing human well-being, both individually and collectively. Just as there are many causes within the human services sector, so too are there a wide variety of organizations whose aim is to accomplish these goals. Three main organizational types define the human services field: nonprofit or NGO, governmental or public enterprise and the private sector. All of them use different methods to aid the people they serve.

The Nonprofit

The nonprofit, or NGO as it is sometimes known, is an organization that works to fulfill a mandate or series of goals for a particular cause. An example might be a nonprofit that concerns itself with the extension of medical care to the homeless. By structuring itself within the private sector, but without a profit motive, the nonprofit or NGO positions itself to receive funding from donors and grants. As they are not concerned with profit margins, the nonprofit is able to focus the majority of its resources on realizing its goals. They also often enjoy tax-exempt status and are able to obtain grants from governments and foundations. In most cases, the nonprofit will have a fairly narrow focus that gives it the ability to provide in-depth services. Unlike a government agency that may need to follow a broader approach, the nonprofit is able to tailor itself to meet the needs of a specific segment of society. As such, the quality of services it can provide is extremely high for its target group.

Getting involved with a nonprofit can take the form of volunteering for the organization. This is an excellent way to get a foot in the door and be considered more favorably for possible employment. Nonprofits have a philosophy of making more out of less and, as such, tend to demand a high degree of excellence from potential candidates for employment. While volunteering with the organization is an excellent way to bolster one’s chances of getting a job, most organizations will also require you to have an advanced degree to meet the minimum qualifications. Finding an organization that supports a cause you also share can start you on an employment path that will reap rewards in terms of job satisfaction.

Some examples of nonprofits include:

AARP: A nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people age 50 and older retain their independence, freedom of choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. Since 1958, AARP has been leading a revolution in the way people view and live life.

The American Red Cross: Since its founding in 1881 by visionary leader Clara Barton, the American Red Cross has been the nation’s premier emergency response organization. As part of a worldwide movement that offers neutral humanitarian care to victims of war, the American Red Cross distinguishes itself by also aiding victims of devastating natural disasters. Over the years, the organization has expanded its services, always with the aim of preventing and relieving suffering.

Voices for America’s Children: The nation’s largest network of multi-issue child-advocacy organizations. Their nonprofit, nonpartisan network spans almost every state, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. They lead advocacy efforts at the community, state and federal levels to improve the lives of all children, especially those most vulnerable, and their families.

National Industries for the Blind: Today, NIB's role in the AbilityOne Program is considered an employment model that encourages private/public partnerships and empowers people who are blind to become more economically integrated. NIB's strategy for moving forward includes plans to further diversify employment opportunities for people who are blind; to create product and service awareness within government agencies; to aggressively market the highest quality products and services; to generate public and private partnerships; and to provide technical, operational, marketing and business development services to its associated, community-based agencies. As the service industry rapidly expands in the United States and new technologies emerge, NIB will continue to deliver new and exciting career opportunities for people who are blind.

The Corps Network: Established in 1985, the Corps Network is the voice of the nation's 151 Service and Conservation Corps. Currently operating in every state and the District of Columbia, Corps annually enroll more than 30,000 young men and women in service every year. Corps annually mobilize approximately 289,000 community volunteers who in conjunction with Corpsmembers generate 13.5 million hours of service every year. Today's Corps, inheritors of the legacy of FDR's Civilian Conservation Corps, enable Corpsmembers to improve community and the environment through programs including Civic Justice Corps, Public Lands Corps, Clean Energy Service Corps and Corps Respond. By serving their nation, Corps members gain abilities that last a lifetime, including work readiness, educational advancement, civic engagement and the ability to make responsible choices.


The Private Sector

While there are many advantages to the nonprofit organization, some tremendous strengths can also be found within the for-profit organizational model. In addition to having the latitude to pursue any goal they wish in the manner they see fit, organizations in the private sector have the huge advantage of not being reliant upon external sources of funding. This allows for long-term goals to be set based on a more reliable accounting situation. The private sector also tends to offer the best wages available to employees. This can result in a high degree of professionalism. Entering into the private sector is generally accomplished through finding employment with an agency that meets your needs.

Some examples of private-sector organizations in the field of human services include:

  • Private mental health practices
  • Counseling positions within private schools
  • Lobbying groups for particular causes such as certain PACs
  • Certain private foundations
  • Working as an patient advocate within a health care agency to facilitate access to Medicare and Medicaid

The Public Sector

Governmental human services organizations are among the largest in the sector and offer the unique advantage of being backed by the resources of the government. Usually having broad mandates to tackle certain social issues, such as poverty and health, the public sector has some of the biggest impacts of any human services organization. Every state has a governmental agency that works to administer federally funded programs such as Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program and Medicaid. County and city agencies also work on various projects that service human beings. One can get involved with the public sector by either volunteering at their chosen agency, or working to obtain employment within them. Volunteering can be an excellent way to establish oneself in the agency. However, minimum educational requirements will still need to be met.

Some examples of governmental agencies that work in the human services field are:


The Department of Health and Human Services: This is the primary federal agency that oversees the Medicare and Medicaid programs. They fund state, local and private agencies to administer the federally funded programs.

The United States Department of Agriculture: The USDA oversees the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program at the federal level. This is a huge program that affects a tremendous number of Americans.

Federal Emergency Management Agency: FEMA is the federal agency responsible for coordinating disaster-relief efforts in the United States. From hurricanes to tornados and floods, FEMA is at the forefront of making sure disasters are responded to.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: This agency is responsible for helping Americans get access to housing. They oversee the Section 8 grant for low-income housing. They also work to provide loans to poorer Americans to allow them access to housing.

Human services is a rich and diverse field with many subsectors and specializations. Whether you work in the public, private or nonprofit sector is a personal choice based on your individual talents and goals. If you are interested in more information about careers with these various organizations, you can click here.