Charity Sector Stories: Alice Rath
Everyone is drawn to the charity sector for different reasons—whether that’s to make a difference or because they’ve been personally affected by a cause. That’s why the sector is filled with so many passionate and inspiring people. They’re invested in changing the world. And their hard work often goes unnoticed by the wider public.
We want to celebrate all the amazing people working tirelessly every day in offices, in shelters, in schools, in museums and in disadvantaged communities. These are the people that are literally shaping a better world, one project at a time. And we think that’s pretty amazing.
Thinking of joining the sector yourself? Take a look at this week’s inspiring charity sector story from Alice Rath, marketer extraordinaire who worked her way up through the sector to become a Digital Marketing Consultant at Empower, a marketing agency for charities and non-profits.
Discover Alice’s story
Alice, why did you choose to pursue a career in the third sector?
In short, I fell into it. But that doesn’t make a good story, does it?
My journey into the charity sector started when I began volunteering at 14 years old. I was a gastroenterology patient at Great Ormond Street Hospital for 12 years, from the age of 6–18. I have an undiagnosed condition, which meant my time at the hospital involved lots of operations and procedures.
While I was there, I was approached by someone from the Patient Experience team explaining that they were setting up a Young Person’s Forum (YPF). The intention for this was to advise the hospital on way’s they could better support teenage patients, based off our own experience. So, I joined the YPF at 14 years old, along with seven other young people, and this was the start of my progression within the charity sector.
So how did that voluntary experience shape your career journey?
During my time on the YPF, I used my own patient experience to help the hospital improve its experiences for teenagers. This included making improvements to transition services to improving the WI-FI on wards so patients could do homework during their stay in hospital. I really valued this experience—I was given direct access to senior leaders, including the Chief Executive and Chief Nurse, who all wanted input on new projects and services.
Then, when I was 17, I joined the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity as an ambassador. My role was to attend events to thank people for their fundraising efforts, to talk about how the money raised supports families in the hospital and link this to my own experience. This role gave me so many opportunities, I spoke at the House of Lords and numerous black-tie events.
So, I had two voluntary roles when I was at school doing my A-Levels. I was always very studious but when it came to choosing what to do next, I really wasn’t sure. For context, my secondary school only promoted university as the next step, so I had very little knowledge around the other opportunities available. After a lot of internal conflict, talks with family and friends, I made the decision not to go to university.
What steps did you need to take to shift from voluntary work to paid work in the sector?
I left school at 18 and started work as a Marketing Assistant for a Japanese Printer company. I really enjoyed the marketing aspect of the role but there wasn’t much room for professional development.
I started researching the different roles available in marketing and I was really interested in the digital side of things. I thought this would be suited to my skill set, so I started looking for Digital Marketing Assistant roles and I found exactly what I was looking for at the Stroke Association! They offered me a role for three days a week and I was able to study for my Chartered Institute of Marketing qualification and volunteer on the other two days. I’m so grateful that the Stroke Association took a chance on me, I truly think that I was only considered for the role because of my work in the voluntary sector.
After that, I continued to progress in digital marketing roles across the charity sector, and of course, continued volunteering. I then moved to Scope, the charity for equality for disabled people. I was a Digital Marketing Executive there and I worked on a variety of large-scale projects doing paid advertising and email marketing.
After a year and a half, I moved to Macmillan Cancer Support. My role of Digital Marketing Analyst included work on data visualisation and supporting stakeholders to effectively utilise their data to achieve better results for their campaigns.
That eventually lead me to take on a new opportunity at Girlguiding as a Digital Marketing Lead. I am personally so proud of my progression from Assistant to Manager in two years in the charity sector, despite not having a degree.
I only worked at Girlguiding for a short period of time as I had an opportunity to work with an agency called Empower. They work with charities and social good organisations, so I can support more charities with their digital marketing campaigns which I’m so thrilled about.
Don't miss another post, sign up to our weekly newsletter
Tell us a bit about your current role. What are the responsibilities? What does a typical workday look like for you?
I’m definitely an early bird, I like to start work at 7:30 am, this is my most productive part of the day (after coffee)!
Regarding my current role, this involves a lot of paid media marketing. This includes advertising on Facebook and Instagram to promote charity products or events to a wider and more relevant audience. For example, I’m working with the Teenage Cancer Trust to promote their challenge events, which is a really fun project!
What do you love most about your job?
Other than working for organisations that do incredible work, I really love my actual job itself. I think I got very lucky and fell into a role that I genuinely love doing.
What advice would you give someone who wants to work in digital marketing for a charity or non-profit?
Digital is always changing. I would advise anyone looking to do a similar role to be aware of how digital is evolving and to have ideas on adapting these changes to better service beneficiaries and supporters.
Think digital marketing sounds like a good fit for you? Find out what charities are looking to fill digital marketing roles today.