Have you considered…working for a charity?
Sam Wilson, June 19, 2014
There are currently over 180,000 registered charities in the UK, these range from the smallest charities run by a single person to huge organisations with thousands of employees and volunteers.
With this number of organisations operating in the UK, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved in this growing sector, in this article I will discuss the benefits of working for a charity, the skills you will develop and some of the opportunities that exist.
The main benefit of working for a charity is that warm fuzzy feeling that you get from knowing you’re doing something good. Every single person that works for a charity contributes to the work that the organisation does. Knowing that the place where you work improves the quality of life of others provides a great level of job satisfaction and can serve as a fantastic source of motivation.
There is nothing quite like working in a team where morale is high and everyone works to support each other in order to achieve shared goals. Team spirit is often very high within charities, due to the nature of the work people often feel very good about what there are doing which in turn significantly boosts morale. Good team spirit and work ethic can prove to be crucial when things get stressful (which is unfortunately unavoidable in any job sometimes) and these situations will appear a lot more manageable with a good team around you.
Working for a charity is a great way to develop skills that you will use for the rest of your career, whether that is within the charity sector or elsewhere.
As a fundraiser on the street you will be required to memorise key facts and other pieces of information and communicate this information effectively. You will need to be persuasive, personable and build trust in order to secure donations.
Event organisation can be a huge part of charity work as they are incredibly effective for both fundraising and public relations. Gaining experience in event organisation on any scale can be massively beneficial moving forward.
A successful charity will always ensure that donations are used in the best way possible. Effective budgeting skills are therefore essential, allocating the right funds to the right places and monitoring potentially fluctuating incomings and outgoings.
Positions within Charities
‘Sharp end’ positions refer to those people that carry out the work that the charity is raising money for. This might include a social worker working with children with learning difficulties, a scientist researching a cure for cancer or someone working to preserve the rainforest.
People working in these kinds of positions are often specialists in their fields and therefore require particular qualifications however as stated before if you can gain the necessary qualifications then the work is highly rewarding and in certain cases will allow you to travel around the world carrying out this work.
Whilst the ‘sharp end’ positions may carry out the purpose of the charity, fundraising is the driving force. Without effective fundraising a charity will not survive and this can take place in a number of different ways, it ranges from people on the street asking for small donations to networking events in which fundraisers will hope to secure much larger sums, patrons and figureheads. It’s all incredibly valuable, street fundraising on average accounts for approximately 18% of continuous donations to the charities that use it as a fundraising method.
Successful fundraisers will have exceptional interpersonal and communication skills as well as be incredibly target driven and motivated.
Marketing within charities will serve primarily to ensure that the proper messages are being communicated at all times. Whether this be working alongside the fundraising function in order to help secure donations or providing information to current donors about how their donations have been used.
Marketing positions may often be combined with fundraising as the two functions can overlap and the skills required will often be the same. Successful marketeers will also require creative skills and the ability to communicate messages to different audiences.
Administrative and other roles
Whilst the fundraising and marketing may act as the ‘driving force’ of a charity, like all other organisations without the office staff they wouldn’t be able to function.
In most medium to large charity organisations there will be a range of positions in such departments as finance, HR and customer service.
It is rare to find the level of gratification that comes from working for a charity elsewhere. Charities continue to be amongst the most dynamic organisations and offer exciting career prospects to ambitious, hard working and focused individuals. Whether you are looking for an opportunity to develop your skills and experience or want to commit your career to a cause that you strongly believe in then working for a charity has it all to offer.