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Catching Up With … Christian Metzger

Christian Metzger
Christian Metzger

The path that I have taken in my professional career since my graduation from Salisbury (State) University in 1999 has been an interesting one. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with concentrations in marketing and management. This ended up being the perfect combination of education for the career path that I have chosen. As with many graduates right out of school, marketing, to me, meant sales, so I set out to find a job selling something. I spent a couple years holding various sales and marketing positions in the for-profit sector, but somehow none of these jobs seemed to be a good fit for me.

It was a fellow Salisbury alum and friend of mine named J.P. Mickanis who first introduced me to the world of nonprofit development. The company was called Guidance In Giving; it was sales with a purpose. In the beginning, I took the job because it involved extensive travel and a per diem, both of which sounded just perfect to me. After working there for a couple years, however, something clicked. Suddenly, I realized that this work wasn’t just a job anymore, it was my personal mission.

Since that time, I have spent 13 years in various executive roles within prominent nonprofits and have had the opportunity to work with vulnerable populations such as underprivileged youth, people with intellectual disabilities, and the poor and homeless. As the executive director of Best Buddies Maryland in 2005, one of my first goals was to start a chapter at Salisbury University. The Salisbury chapter of Best Buddies quickly became one of the best in the state and still thrives today, creating socialization opportunities for local people with intellectual disabilities.

Currently, I serve as the executive director (aka president) for the Franciscan Center. The Center provides supportive outreach and emergency assistance to the poor and homeless in Baltimore City. On average, 700 people come to the center each day for help. Nestled in an impoverished area of Baltimore that is commonly plagued by drugs and violence, the Franciscan Center serves as a beacon of hope. Every day when I leave work, I know that my time and effort have truly been spent helping people in need. Given my position at the center, I don't always get the chance to interact one on one with the people that benefit from the services that we provide, but I know that every donation we receive, every successful gala we hold and every partnership formed will affect the lives of thousands of people in a positive way.

My role with the Franciscan Center exceeds my definition of job satisfaction. For some people, commissions and colossal salaries are the only factors of interest when choosing a career path. In the nonprofit world, job satisfaction, personal happiness and pride from being a positive influence in the community take precedence over monetary compensation. However, a career in nonprofits doesn’t mean you must work for free. As with any other industry, if you excel at what you do, you will be compensated well.

Nonprofit work is rewarding, but it’s also challenging, which is part of what I enjoy about it. I use the knowledge that I gained from the Perdue School of Business every day to help make this organization successful. The Franciscan Center has 21 paid staff members and an annual budget of nearly $2 million; this is a real business. In 2009, the center was financially unstable. I was brought on in 2010 because of my business acumen and success with previous nonprofits, and I was tasked with instituting a business model that would revive the center. In just four years, both the annual budget and cash reserves have tripled, and we now serve the needs of more people than ever before. Today, in its 46th year of service, the Franciscan Center is financially sound and preparing to enter a new growth phase.

This type of restructuring is occurring more often in today’s nonprofit world. Nonprofits can no longer survive on divine providence alone in such a challenging economy, and there is a great need for strong business minded leaders to step in. Major Maryland nonprofits, such as the United Way of Central Maryland and Catholic Charities of Baltimore, have paved the way by hiring prominent banking executives to lead their organizations into the future. This trend is only going to keep growing. The nonprofit sector is one of the fastest growing job markets in the country; and with this shift in the infrastructure, there is an untapped employment market in the nonprofit realm for business students coming out of college.

Nonprofit organizations are creating bigger budgets in order to offer competitive salaries for personnel in marketing, development (sales), human resources, finance, accounting and all levels of management. The education I received from SU was the perfect combination for success in my career in the nonprofit management and development as it encompasses all of these focus areas on a daily basis. I recently joined the Perdue School’s Career Advisory Board (CAB) because I feel that this will provide me with a great opportunity to inform the next generation of business leaders about the benefits of working in the nonprofit world. You too have the ability to utilize your business skills to make the world a better place.

Web Links
Franciscan Center Inc.:
Best Buddies Maryland:
Guidance In Giving, Inc.:

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