Helping Hand

Working for a charity can provide great job satisfaction and better renumeration than you’d think.

In a world where success is often measured by salary, working for a charity can give you a different viewpoint. Not only are charity jobs as well rewarded as any other, you also get the chance to make a difference to people’s lives.

There are charities in all sorts of sectors, from childcare and animal welfare to overseas aid and ecological issues. There are more than 180,000 registered charities in England and Wales employing around 800,000 people and generating around £10bn in annual income. The workforce is growing by about 10,000 employees every year and the work available in this sector is varied and widespread.

More than volunteers

Charity work is roughly divided into two areas: volunteer roles and paid positions. Paid roles, especially technical and executive jobs, often require a degree or formal qualification in the relevant field. For more junior roles, or volunteer positions, commitment, enthusiasm and an interest in the issues may be enough to you get your foot in the door.

While many work for charities because they want a worthwhile career, it’s a myth that roles within charitable organisations are poorly paid. Generally, salaries are competitive, especially for those in senior positions.
Another valid reason to go into this sector is that charities have a reputation for being good employers, and consequently have high staff-retention rates. Many companies also offer flexible-working options and good opportunities for career development and further training.

The skills you’ll need will depend on which area you go into but, in general, you need to be hard-working, dedicated and proactive, with excellent communication and organisation skills. If you’re savvy with social media, that’s a huge plus – the charity industry benefits greatly from social media platforms as they enable fast, effective targeting of potential donors, volunteers and contributors for fundraising and campaigns.

Variety of roles

There are many charities doing valuable work raising funds and awareness in specific areas, such as the RSPCA. Other charities, such as Children in Need, concentrate on raising funds which are then given to other charities to spend.
Many charities derive income from sponsorship, trusts, benefactors and fundraising. Bid writing, where you put together the proposals asking for funding, is an important role.

You can specialise in many fields, including administrative, advisory, campaigning and lobbying, financial management, fundraising, policies, public relations and branding.

Here are a few examples in more detail to help you to decide if working for a charity would suit you.

Public relations and marketing

This is an important part of any organisation, and even more so for charitable ones. The better-known a charity is, the more likely it is to get donations from the public. Your job would be to promote your charity and its good work across media outlets, getting press coverage for your campaigns and keeping the name of the charity constantly in people’s minds, so they remember you when they put their hands in their pockets.

A PR or marketing qualification will stand you in good stead, as will having some marketing experience.

How much can I earn? From £15,000 as a press officer.

Fundraising

Behind the frontline care and services provided by any charity lies the vital fundraising department. This is staffed by the hard-working folk generating cash to ensure the smooth operation of the charity’s work.

Roles are available as both full-time and occasional fundraisers, with the latter seeing you thrown into the deep end on high streets up and down the country. Yes, those people with the clipboards who bother you in the street.

If you decide to go into this field full-time, be prepared to work hard – you will face rejection, so you also have to be pretty thick-skinned. But imagine the sense of achievement if you score a massive donation for your chosen cause.

How much can I earn? Around £9 an hour for street canvassing, and from £20,000 to £40,000 for a full-time position.

Campaigning

If you have passion, drive and dedication this is the area for you. You’ll be working with policymakers, researchers and press officers to help develop, launch and promote campaigns. People in these positions need excellent communication skills and confidence in using online tools, as the job involves promoting campaigns via email, social media and direct marketing methods.

You can start as a junior officer, working your way up to campaigns manager, where you’ll also be responsible for analysing and reporting on campaign results and developing future strategies within your organisation.

How much can I earn? £20,000 for a junior officer, up to around £40,000 for a manager.

For more great features on finding the right job for you, see the latest issue of Jobs & Careers. You can download your copy here.

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