Debating the Appeal of a Career in India’s Emerging Social Sector

When it comes to career choices, the social sector is quickly gaining prominence today. You can attribute this emerging popularity to several factors. This includes increasing awareness among today’s youth on topics concerning climate change, progressive development, and empowering the underprivileged to name a few.

As someone who’s closely been associated with numerous NGO work, we at Let It Count want to see India’s social sector thrive. We want to see more and more professionals participate in the sector for the sake of all those who are underserved in the country.

That said, we also understand that a job in the social sector might not be as lucrative as a job in any other industry.

On one hand, we vehemently agree with folks who say that the intrinsic reward of helping someone far outweighs any financial gain. However, we also cannot blame someone for wanting a better life with a competitive salary and better career advancement opportunities.

Suffice is to say, we are of two minds on this subject. In this article, we would like to explore both sides of this argument. To make matters more comprehensive, we would like to focus on 4 key elements that are central to this debate around the social sector.
So without much further ado, let’s dive in.

Salary in Social Sector

The Cons

It is a well-documented fact that salaries in the social sector remain significantly lower than in the general industry. Most entry-level positions in this sector end up being grossly underpaid or not being paid at all. NGOs, for instance, are essentially operating on scrapes. They have no other option than to rely on grants or contracts from the Government of India to handle their day-to-day operations.

The absence of financial incentives is what deters talented people from pursuing a career in this field. This is also why there is a shortage of talent in this sector today.

The Pros

One of the arguments we’ve heard people make in favor of the social sector being a lucrative career choice has more to do with its moral impact rather than its financial one. People who gravitate towards a profession in the social sector are more or less driven by a sense of selflessness. They wish to make a lasting impact on society and improve the lives of those who are downtrodden.

While the salaries aren’t going to match what you can get in the corporate sector, at the end of the day it is the satisfaction of having helped someone that makes the job worth it. This isn’t to say that the salaries in this sector are low across the board. People in specialized positions or those with Government, established foundations and CSR wings of businesses can still enjoy a handsome payday.

Moreover, people with experience in the field of grant writing or fundraising are in high demand today and easily yield high salaries.



The social sector derives its strength from a diverse range of stakeholders. It involves strong collaboration between the Government of India, NGOs, philanthropic organizations, etc… all coming together to address issues plaguing our society.

As such, professionals in the social sector have a broad network to engage with to advance their careers. You have the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with influential people like policymakers, affluent donors, and community leaders. Connecting and engaging with these stakeholders can have a positive impact on the trajectory of your career.


Considering how diverse this landscape of stakeholders is in India, navigating it can be a challenge, especially if you are just starting in the field. You will have to deal with unfair power dynamics and come to loggerheads with people in power who are apathetic to social causes.

External factors like a constantly changing political landscape and economic upheavals have always put India’s social sector in a very vulnerable position. It also doesn’t help that most organizations in the social sector depend on external funding from some of these stakeholders. In the past, this has rendered the social sector inefficient in achieving its goals.

Simply put, it can be very difficult to do your job in this field with conflicting political agendas and shifting power dynamics at play.



People entering the social sector need quality education to be competent enough to tackle challenging social issues. There are colleges and institutions in India that offer specialized programs. These programs can prepare you for a long career in NGOs, social work, and even politics. Thanks to the advent of technology, these courses and programs can be accessed online.


However, access to quality education programs in this sector is limited, especially for people coming from marginalized communities. Predominant geographical barriers and expensive fees have made these programs almost inaccessible to people from low-income backgrounds.

Furthermore, a large majority of educational institutions in India that do offer these programs aren’t even privy to the issues and social trends that are relevant today. At the end of the day, these ill-equipped institutions produce graduates who are incompetent and unable to tackle contemporary social issues head-on.

Career Progression


Most people would agree with us when we say that having a thriving career in the social sector ultimately comes down to passion and dedication. Just like in any other industry, people who demonstrate hard work and leadership qualities will have an easy time growing in the field and moving their careers in interesting directions.

India’s social sector is diverse. As such, there are ample opportunities for professionals to switch between roles and geographical locations based on their career goals. There are various rewarding opportunities for folks who remain committed to the field. These people could thrive in areas related to research, fundraising, program management, social entrepreneurship, etc.

Also, the security that a government job provides in India is unmatched by the corporate sector. 


That said, career progression in the social sector is often shrouded in uncertainty. For people just starting, this progression might be unbearably slow. High turnover rates are a staple of this industry. Many professionals give up due to high stress or the heavy emotional toll these jobs can have on a person.

Lack of any meaningful social impact can also leave people disillusioned with their jobs. As we mentioned before, most organizations in the social sector are operating on limited funds. This also serves as a major barrier to career progression in the field.


Regardless of where you fall in this debate, one cannot deny that India needs its social sector to function seamlessly in a bid to address a plethora of social issues that have plagued it since independence. For the sake of millions in the country who are underserved and marginalized, India’s social sector has to thrive.

At Let It Count, we are doing our part to make sure that is the case by shining a spotlight on social initiatives working tirelessly to alleviate a diverse range of issues… ranging from women empowerment to education and child protection.

These initiatives could work wonders in their pursuit of a noble cause with generous financial aid from your side.

Visit the “Our Projects” page on our website to explore all the causes that you could support today under the reliable guidance of Let It Count.