You love the sound of the job description, it’s a great match for your skills and you’ve been offered the job—congratulations! But how do you know if this particular charity is the right fit? With reports of discrimination and toxic work cultures, even in charities, it’s important you know what you’re getting yourself into. Here’s how you can find out if the charity is the right fit for you.
You want to be happy and fulfilled at work, so take the time to make sure any new charity has an environment that will support that. First, you need to think about what matters to you and what your ideal work life looks like. What are your top priorities and deal breakers? This goes beyond the job description, salary and location. Ask yourself what you need from the job—do you want a role you can grow into and stay in for a while, or one you can instantly feel confident doing? Do you want a flexible environment to work around your family life or a sociable one where you can get to know more people?
Familiarise yourself with the team and work environment
Whether you prefer to work independently or you like your manager to be more hands-on, hopefully you will have picked up enough cues from your interview to know what your line manager will be like. But if you’re still not sure if they’re someone who will support your success at the charity, ask them about their management style. It’s fine to ask questions even when you get to a job offer stage. Charities will want you to be confident about your choice to accept the role so they will be happy to give you all the information you need.
If you’ll be office-based in the role then make sure you visit the office. This will give you a feel for the atmosphere and work setup. Is it quiet or collaborative? Is the environment conducive to productivity for you? If you haven’t already met other members of your team then you could suggest an informal coffee to judge if you can see yourself working with these people every day.
If you haven’t already discussed this at the interview stage, ask your line manager or the HR manager what the culture of the organisation is like. Then do you own research (see below) and see if the answer matches up. Are there opportunities for you to grow and progress in the role? Are new ideas and innovation encouraged? Will the organisational structure support your success? How much autonomy are people at your level given to make decisions? How much flexibility is on offer around working hours and location? Then ask yourself how far all of this will meet your needs.
As part of your interview preparation you will have researched the charity, reviewed the job description and checked the length of your commute. But now is the time to delve deeper to find out if this is really the right place for you.
Most charities have a set of values that influence how they operate. What are these values? How does the charity manage their staff? What provision do they make for wellbeing and work life balance? Are they inclusive? Are they environmentally-conscious? Ask yourself if these values harmonise with what’s important to you.
Even if it isn’t a particular passion of yours, you need to be able to get behind the cause and care about the charity’s mission. If you’re not an animal lover then you’re unlikely to thrive at a charity supporting them, no matter how good a match for your skills the actual role might be.
Want to get a feel for the charity’s size and growth in the last few years? Why not look up their finances and governance on the Charity Commission website. How they spend their money will tell you a lot and could help inform your decision or what else you may want to find out.
If you know anyone who currently works for the charity, or has done previously, ask them for their thoughts. What are the best and worst things about working there? Why have they stayed or why have they moved on?
Don’t have any contacts there? Ask your friends and colleagues if they do, or have a look on social media. You could do a LinkedIn search to find previous employees who you could contact directly. Or you could sign up to CharityConnect and ask there. You’ll get a clearer idea of what the organisation is like if different people tell you similar things.
Ultimately, once you’ve considered the above factors, you should trust your instincts and go with your gut feeling. Job satisfaction usually equals success, so if something doesn’t feel right or the recruitment process rings any alarm bells, don’t ignore it. But if a job fits well with your values, lifestyle and career ambitions, and you feel excited about the new challenge, then you’re well on your way to success.