Why Become a Social and Community Service Manager?

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A smiling social and community service manager holding a clipboard at a food drive.There are few ways to have a more direct impact on improving the world than being a social and community service manager. As the people in charge of leading programs or organizations that support public welfare, they have the unique chance to create, launch, and work on initiatives that target specific problems that affect cities, neighborhoods, groups of people, or even individuals and families.

Communication with influential community members is another important responsibility. This interaction between social workers and volunteers, government agencies, or donors helps identify what issues exist and the best approach possible to address them. Sometimes that could mean finding the correct group to refer a case of child neglect or to address racial or ethnic discrimination in housing.

An advanced degree in social work can open the door to this kind of community-centered career.

What Does a Social and Community Service Manager Do?

These professionals have a variety of responsibilities. In addition to hands-on work, they may design programs, set fundraising goals, write grant proposals, and manage employees. They also serve as a public voice drawing attention to problems within a community and advocating for their solutions to those affected, as well as those who can provide the assistance necessary for solutions such as unhoused adults and children living in poverty. Part of that advocacy is demonstrating through the collection and analysis of data and other information that their projects are using resources efficiently and effectively.

Social and community service managers sometimes specialize in helping specific populations of people and may focus on certain phases or aspects of a larger program or operation. In big organizations, these professionals may manage initiatives designed by other people rather than creating projects themselves. Those who work for smaller agencies may build a program from scratch and handle everything from public engagement to raising and budgeting funds to creating and filing paperwork.

The Community Impact of a Social and Community Service Manager

The benefits of becoming a social and community service manager stem from the positive impact community social work can have on a locality and the people who live in it. Helping those in need builds human connections and can be personally gratifying while also making neighborhoods and societies better places to live for everyone. These experiences also mean becoming aware of and gaining empathy for the challenges that different groups face.

Serving in this role can change a community in many ways, such as creating or leading programs to assist unhoused people in finding a place to live, providing meals for children living in poverty, supporting the educational goals of at-risk youth, helping the unemployed find jobs, or help those suffering from mental illness find treatment. Meeting the goals of programs like these can help improve communities by reducing poverty, which in turn reduces crime and improves the outcomes for children when they grow up.

Successful social programs have also been shown to decrease racial and ethnic disparities. From 1970 to 2017, for example, government economic security programs lowered poverty rates for Black children by 35% compared to a 10% reduction for white children, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. In 2017 alone, programs offering assistance like tax credits and housing and food assistance reduced white child poverty by 7% while Black child poverty dropped by 20 % and Latino child poverty by 16%.

The Fundamental Skills for Success as a Social and Community Service Manager

The competencies considered fundamental to this role revolve around the ability to solve problems — both by using personal knowledge and applying the resources of team members and other stakeholders to generate ideas — and a personal passion for advocacy and equity. Here are some of the other skills necessary to be effective:


Being able to communicate ideas clearly is crucial to explaining perceived problems and their proposed solutions in a way others can understand. It’s also important for community interaction, engagement, and motivation. This includes verbal communication, from one-on-one conversations to public speaking in front of small and large groups, as well as being able to write clearly and persuasively.


Hiring and supervising employees is a core component of the job, as is overseeing volunteers. As managers, they must also be able to monitor budgets and evaluate the performance of people or groups.


Community service managers are in charge of projects from creation to completion. Often, they must coordinate the efforts of multiple people and groups to fulfill the goals of these initiatives.


Understanding and evaluating data is fundamental to implementing, leading, and evaluating projects. Analytical skills also are necessary to determine if an approach is working, and, if it isn’t, what changes are necessary.

Time Management

Efficient use of time is crucial to completing or fulfilling many different tasks and responsibilities simultaneously.

Cultural Competence

Understanding different groups’ needs is a necessary element of community service management. How different people and cultures prioritize issues should drive how managers design programs to offer solutions.

Helping Communities with a Degree in Social Work

Earning a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree can be a significant step toward helping people and communities by creating, implementing, and working on programs that support public welfare. Ohio University’s online MSW program helps students learn the skills necessary to lead initiatives designed to address systemic failures and open the door to a fulfilling career in the field.

The part-time online Foundation Plan and Advanced Standing programs make it possible to earn an MSW while remaining employed full-time. The Foundation Plan is a 62-credit track, while the 10-course accelerated Advanced Standing Program can be finished in two years.

Learn more about how OHIO can help you achieve professional success as a social and community service manager.

Recommended Readings

What Do Social Workers Do?

Role of a Social Worker in Pursuing Racial Equality

Social Workers Reducing the Impact of Poverty 


Career Girls, Community Service Manager

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “Economic Security Programs Reduce Overall Poverty, Racial and Ethnic Inequities”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Cultural Competence in Health and Human Services”

Habitat for Humanity, “Here’s Why Community Service Is Important — Top 5 Benefits”

MassHire, Social Services & Community Manager

Next Steps Idaho, Social and Community Service Managers

O*Net Online, Social and Community Service Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Social and Community Service Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, What Social and Community Service Managers Do