Should I work for a charity?

Some people have Utopian ideas about changing the world by working for a charity. While it’s quite possible to have a genuine impact, it’s worth weighing up your motivations and expectations if you’re thinking about taking on some charity work.

Making a difference

For a lot of organisations, revenue is the main focus, while charities tend to have a specific focus on a particular area of need, for example the environment or a specific demographic. It can be really motivating to work for an organisation that deals with the issues you feel passionate about and in areas where you feel you can help to change the world for the better. If you’re driven by cause rather than profit, working for a charity could be really fulfilling, but don’t forget that charities also need to make money and you may not be on the frontline dealing with the people or issues you really care about. 

Working with like-minded people

It’s likely that your colleagues will share your passion for nature, victims of war, dementia sufferers or whatever your charity’s focus is. It can be really helpful to work with like-minded people who you can share ideas with and unite against injustice, but don’t assume that they have the exact same goals or passions as you simply because they work for a charity. It may well be that you get on like a house on fire and become friends outside work, but remember that you will face challenging personalities as well as sparkling ones.

Enjoying the variety

Whether you want to work for several charities or hold various roles within the same organisation, charities tend to offer plenty of variety. From fundraising on the streets of England to working with children on the streets of Brazil, you can really use your talents to accomplish great things. Perhaps you come from a marketing background and want to develop your social media skills, or you’re in management and fancy running a soup kitchen, there should be plenty of scope. Just make sure that you know what the limitations and expectations of each role are. If you see yourself on the frontline in the Philippines, you may not be happy handling logistics in the London office (and vice versa). It may, of course, be possible to do both, but make sure you ask these important questions early on.

Charities need talented people

Some people assume that charities attract people with fewer skills than cutting-edge businesses, but most charities are looking for really talented individuals from a range of backgrounds to take them to the next level. There’s every chance that you will be able to put your existing skills and experience to good use working for a charity as well as learning new skills along the way. There’s a chance that you may not be paid as well for your efforts, but that’s not always the case. And if you’re doing something you’re passionate about, the money might be a secondary consideration anyway.

If you no longer want to be just another cog in the corporate wheel, it’s definitely worth thinking about taking on charity work. Approach charity job applications as you would any other role, gaining a full understanding of the position, what the organisation is looking for and what they’re offering before you send off your CV.

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Joy Tibbs is a freelance writer and editor who regularly contributes to Premier. Find out more at and find her on Twitter @joyous25

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