How To Land A Flexible Career In The Non-Profit Sector
Use your skills for good: Tips on finding a flexible and home-based job with a charity or social enterprise - whether you are just starting out, changing career, or looking for your next roleby Lucy Elkin, myworkhive
Working for a charity or social enterprise can be incredibly rewarding.
Before starting myworkhive, I worked for a charity in Thailand.
When my two children were young, I carried on working part-time for two charities in the UK. I wanted the time away from my family to really count for something, and it was great to know that I was using my time and skills to help others and have a positive social impact.
As well as offering lots of job satisfaction, many charities and social enterprises are also pretty good at offering flexible and part-time roles. The bad news is that, in the UK, lots of jobs in the sector are concentrated in London and a handful of other big cities. Looking for a charity job you can do remotely (ie from home) is one way to widen your options and bring many more jobs within reach, particularly if you live in a more rural area. The problem is, home-based jobs can be tricky to find. So we’ve put together some tips and links to help you land a flexible charity or social enterprise job you can do from home, whether you are just starting out, changing career, or looking for your next non-profit career move.
Refugee camp, Thailand - this used to be my regular commute
Find your way around the sector
There are around 200,000 charities in the UK. There are also at least 70,000 social enterprises (that is, organisations that have more of a business focus, but still have a clear social or environmental purpose). That includes a really wide range of organisations – from tiny startups to global giants such as Oxfam or the Red Cross – working on lots of different issues. Whether you are interested in health, education, communities, the environment, human rights or international development, there’s bound to be a charity or social enterprise working on it.
If you’re changing career, think about the skills you can already offer and where they would fit best: larger organisations can afford specialists in areas such as HR, marketing, social media management, IT and so on, while smaller organisations often look for generalists who can cover a variety of tasks. Some roles (such as fundraising) may be fairly unique to the sector, and require relevant experience and, for some jobs, specialist qualifications such as those offered by the Institute of Fundraising. The UK careers advice website, Prospects, has a good overview of the different roles available. It’s from a UK perspective, but a lot of the advice is relevant to other locations.
Plenty of places to job hunt
Number of UK charities (Source: Charity Commission)
Number of UK social enterprises (Source: Social Enterprise UK)
Find opportunities for virtual volunteering
If you are just starting out or switching careers, getting your first job in the charity or social enterprise sector can be really difficult. Competition can be stiff – especially for in-demand flexible and home-based jobs – and most organisations will want to see evidence that you’re interested in their issues and, ideally, have some previous relevant experience. That doesn’t have to be paid work experience. Volunteering your time for the sort of organisation you’d like to work for is how many people land their first charity role, and can be a really great way to get started. The only problem is, not everyone can afford to do this or has time to fit volunteering into their day.
Volunteering your time online can make it much easier to fit in around your family, work or studies. myworkhive regularly lists volunteer roles you can do from home. Other places to look for online volunteering opportunities include UN Online Volunteering, Skills for Change, Catchafire and Volunteer Match, as well as:
Becoming a Trustee
If you’ve already got quite a bit of experience under your belt, becoming a Trustee is a fantastic way to use those skills for positive social change – and to learn about the charity sector at the same time. Charities and social enterprises are always on the look-out for Trustees who can bring in experience from other sectors, and lots Trustee roles can be done remotely (with occasional travel to meetings.)
If you’re thinking of switching careers to the charity sector, becoming a Trustee would let you use the skills you already have whilst also building your knowledge of how charities work. If you’re on maternity leave and thinking about changing careers to the non-profit sector, a Trustee role might be something to think about. In the UK, the organisation Young Trustees provides resources for young people thinking about becoming a Trustee, and Trustees Unlimited lists trustee vacancies. You can also find Trustee roles on the myworkhive job board.
Join a graduate programme
If you’re a student, Charity Works runs the graduate trainee programme for the UK non-profit sector. Also in the UK, Worthwhile offer mentoring, training and recruitment for career starters seeking purpose-driven roles in the social enterprise sector. They are looking for people who are “passionate about making a difference”, as well as bring driven to develop their skills.
Where to find non-profit jobs you can do from home
myworkhive’s job board regularly lists paid, volunteer and Trustee roles in the charity and social enterprise sectors. You can sign up for free job alerts to let you know when new roles are added that match your search criteria. Social enterprises and charities can list their jobs with myworkhive free of charge, so we’re doing our bit to help the non-profit sector too. If you find another resource that would be good to include here, please do drop us a line.