‘When are you going to start a real career?’, ‘do you get paid for that?’, ‘did you not find a proper job?’
All actual questions I have been asked when discussing what I do for a day job.
Yes, working for a Charity is a ‘real’ job. Yes, I get paid. Yes, this is my real career and No, I’m not looking for a ‘proper’ role.
I work with some incredibly capable people. They’ve got a variety of training and career backgrounds but have all now chosen to work for an organisation that is seeking to make change for a large group of beneficiaries. I love that.
When I left university, I had a life plan. The rug was pulled from under my feet on plan A (or was it already B, or maybe C?) fairly rapidly and I found myself job hunting instead of heading into the Navy full time. I was enormously blessed to land a job with a wonderful international development charity called Children on the Edge. It’s an organisation full of life and provided me with 18 months of working with the most amazing colleagues. At Children on the Edge I worked in a junior fundraising and office assistant role – it was great fun, taught me a huge amount and I also learned vast amounts about working for a charity.
I left COTE and headed to another job that I had been head-hunted for. It was not a great time (you can read a little more about it in this post) but it did provide me with more professional experience, both good and bad! It was working alongside the charity and third sector organisations, alongside political thinktanks, government departments and local government offices. Fascinating and hugely broadening.
My next career step took me back to the Charity sector and into the organisation where I currently work. A dive into the military charity sector, working with a subject matter that I knew fairly well and one that it has been fun to work alongside. It’s an incredibly supportive and nurturing environment which has enabled me to progress in my career as well as cast an eye to what I might like to do in the future.
Working in the charity sector is a job full of interest, variety and challenge. It allows me to fully geek out over my favourite subject – analysis of need and impact measurement! I work with the most amazing people, both as colleagues, volunteers and our beneficiaries. There is opportunity to grow and develop professionally. I get to tell stories about life-changing projects each day and raise the money that ensures they remain possible. As with any career there are ups and downs, frustrations and legislative changes that ever increase the red tape. But I love it.
In fact, I think its so important that our charities and third sector organisations get the right support that I have become a trustee for a charitable foundation and sit on the exec for another. By providing up to date governance and best practice, I feel that I help them build a stronger future for their own projects too.
As public funds decrease and government funding is increasingly limited, our societies and communities are becoming more dependent on charities to plug the gap and support the areas of need that are prevalent. Charities have come under the spotlight over the last 24 months and quite rightly it has forced everyone to really look internally at their own mechanisms and processes – I think it is going to build a stronger charity sector which will be more resilient.
So yes, working for a charity does pay my bills, it does provide me with a career structure and it does equal a real job!
Have you ever considered a job working for a Charity?