There are so many misconceptions around the work of charities and how their staff operate that I thought since working at one myself, I’d give you an insider insight on what it’s really like to work for one of the biggest animal welfare charities in the UK. (Please note, this account is from my experiences working in a fundraising team for an animal welfare charity. Experiences working in other departments for other charities may be different).
I’d never considered working at a charity as something that would interest me. To be honest, I didn’t realise that you could be paid for charity work. A common misconception is that charities are predominately run by trustees and volunteers. This is not the case. There are lots of paid staff across a multitude of charities and the sector is only growing.
Like most people, I fell into charity work as a ‘this job looks interesting’ and haven’t thought about moving since. Working at a charity utilises a lot of the skills I already have such as customer service and marketing so I thought why not give it a go. So what is a typical charity office like?
It’s a relaxing, friendly environment
For the most part, working in the charity sector has introduced me to some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. You see, the people who work there are charitable and most of the conversations you have with supporters are heartwarming; people who genuinely care about the cause and want to help. It really does give you faith in the human race.
By relaxed I don’t mean relaxing because the work is sometimes coming out of my ears and the office is often a noisy, buzzing place but the dress code and the way people interact is usually quite casual. This is one of the things I love about our office the most.
We have a dogs in the office policy and although most people may think this would be distracting, for the most part it’s really not. Dogs are proven to alleviate stress and bring happiness. I think they’re what make our office so relaxed and happy. (Watching your colleagues go all soppy over a cute dog is fun too).
Our office is predominately women
In fact, the charity sector is mostly made up of women; inspiring young people killing it in the third sector. I suppose you could argue that women are more likely to give to charity and sympathise with causes more than men. There’s a lot of talent in our office and I’m often in awe of amazing ideas and campaigns that are created by the people around me.
You will learn more than you realise
Charity work is so varied. You could be doing anything from creating a marketing campaign to front line work rescuing animals. One thing is for certain; you will learn so much not only about your own role but about people’s capacity to give, other charities, marketing, customer service, legacies, events and fundraising as a whole. The charity I work for has a UK wide reach so one day I could be talking to volunteers from Scotland, the next to staff from Cornwall. Not only that but the charity gives the staff so many opportunities to develop and I have learnt so much through all the brilliant training courses I have been on.
It’s also given me a lot of confidence which can only be a good thing.
Staff and volunteers are passionate about what they do
I have worked in places where the staff have hated their jobs. It’s just a job for them and it creates an unpleasant atmosphere. The staff and volunteers I work with are all passionate and driven people who genuinely want to make a difference to the lives of animals. (We can be frequently found showing pictures of our pets to others).
Through all the challenges that charities have faced over the years especially fundraising departments, you have to hand it to the resilience and caring nature of the people who make up the sector.
They’re always looking to the future
I believe that the charity I work for is progressive. They’re always looking to the future and there has been immense change over the past few years to push the charity to achieve more. It’s great to work for such a forward looking organisation and feel like you’re really making a difference to not only the lives of animals but people too.
That’s only really a small insight into what it’s really like to work for a charity. I’d sum it up as a fun, inspiring and flexible sector to work in. If there’s anything else you’d like to know about working for a charity then feel free to drop me a line on Twitter @kerriee_carter.