Getting started in the charity sector

Six months into my second career shift and I am very happy I made the change and joined Ashby Jenkins Recruitment. I love working with passionate candidates and wonderful hiring managers, hearing your stories and helping you find a great next role / new hire.  A lot of the candidates I speak to are also trying to make a career change and move into the charity sector and have welcomed advice from my experience moving into the sector 8 years ago. I am so pleased to have helped former sales managers, real estate agents and a social worker find new and fulfilling roles in fundraising!

Transitioning into a career in the charity sector can be a fulfilling and impactful move. However, it can also present challenges, especially for those new to the industry. In this blog, I have summarised key areas for you to focus on, gathering insight not just from my experience but others in fundraising who also made a change, including ex teachers, account managers and sales people.

1. Research:

Start by immersing yourself in the charity landscape. Explore resources such as the Institute of Fundraising (IOF), NCVO, Third Sector, and UK Fundraising to gain insights into the sector’s trends, available roles, and relevant jargon. Understand how charities generate and allocate funds, and familiarise yourself with different causes and their missions.

2. Assess your skills and experiences:

When considering roles in the charity sector, focus on your transferable skills and experiences. Charity organizations value skills such as relationship management, written and oral communication, and the ability to handle multiple projects simultaneously. Remember that skills and attitude are often more important than specific knowledge, as the latter can be learned and developed. When applying for roles and interviewing, make sure to have specific examples and talk about how you achieved successful outcome to show you have those transferable skills.

3. Leverage your network:

One of the most valuable resources in your job search is your network. Reach out to individuals already working in the charity sector through your LinkedIn connections, friends, and family. When contacting people you don’t know, be clear about what you hope to gain from the conversation and respect their time constraints, as fundraisers are often busy individuals.

4. Engage with charities:

To gain firsthand experience and demonstrate your commitment, consider volunteering with charities or participating in corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives offered by your employer. These opportunities allow you to contribute to meaningful causes while gaining insights into the inner workings of charities.

5. Fundraise and get involved:

In addition to volunteering, engage in personal fundraising activities to show your dedication and passion for the cause. Participate in charity events, organise fundraisers, or leverage your network to raise awareness and funds. These initiatives demonstrate your proactive nature and commitment to making a difference.

6. Manage your expectations and plan ahead:

Transitioning into the charity sector requires careful consideration and realistic expectations. Consider the financial implications, potential lifestyle changes, and day-to-day expectations of working in the charity sector. It’s important to weigh up the different factors that matter to you, including income, as moving into the charity sector may involve a significant pay cut.

Also, understand that the challenges you may face extend beyond financial aspects; you will be measured on the funds raised and expected to effectively communicate the cause. Prepare yourself for potentially intense and emotional situations, as you will be exposed to firsthand accounts of the issues your chosen charity addresses. Meet and network with potential colleagues and supervisors to gain a better understanding of the work environment and culture.

To conclude:

Embarking on a career in the charity sector can be a transformative and fulfilling experience. By conducting thorough research, assessing your skills, leveraging your network, engaging with charities, fundraising, managing expectations, and developing a plan, you can successfully transition into this sector. Your dedication and passion for making a positive impact will be the driving force behind your journey and whilst it might be frustrating at times, stay positive and remember why you are making this change.

When you are ready to make that move, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Ashby Jenkins Recruitment on 0203 006 2787 or email me at [email protected] to see what roles might be right for you. Good luck!