How to Become a Manager in the Charity Sector

3 minute read

Got your sights set on becoming a manager? It’s never too early to start building a foundation that can land you such a position. To do that, it’s important to know what route to take. Here’s a step-by-step approach to building charity leadership skills that will help you land the job of your dreams.


Find a mentor or career model

One of the best things you can do is to try and find someone in an executive role who’s willing to help. Why not start by putting out a call out for a mentor on Charity Connect? Your mentor can talk to you about their own career path and advise you on what else you can be doing to become a manager. We’re a smaller sector, and while training budgets are sometimes tighter, there’s greater opportunity for networking. So be sure to make use of this.

If you’re lucky, your mentor will also be able to help you to network. They can support you in building connections that will come in handy when you start job-hunting. They can even become a valuable reference if you establish a lasting bond.


Become a mentor

If you’re looking for a taste of what management is like, becoming a mentor is the way to go!

If you’ve been in your role for a while, you’ll have skills and experiences that are invaluable to someone who’s just starting out. Not only does mentoring allow you to give back, it also helps you to develop management skills. This is an excellent bit of experience to put on your CV that’ll help you to become a manager.

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Volunteer on a charity board

Volunteering will always be helpful if you want to become a manager. By volunteering as a trustee, you’ll get a very high-level view of everything it takes to run a charity. You’ll gain crucial fundraising experience if you don’t already have it. You’ll also learn the ins and outs of day-to-day operational planning. And again, you’ll have an excellent opportunity to network among people in the upper echelons of the charity world, which will pay dividends later.


Tell your manager

Let your manager know your goal to become a manager as part of your 1-to-1s or performance reviews. Part of their role is to support your professional development and they should be able to offer training. Sometimes that’s arranged through an external provider. But there are also plenty of ways for you to gain leadership and management skills in-house.

You might be able to shadow your manager or someone else in a leadership position at your charity. You could ask to be given the opportunity to lead more meetings or to lead on a new project.

grab cv during phone interview

Consider pursuing a charity-focused MBA

Many positions within the charity sector don’t require higher qualifications. But there are others for which a degree is still beneficial. It’s now possible to get a bachelor’s degree in a variety of charity-specific disciplines. If you’re aiming for a management-tier position, you could add a Masters in Voluntary Sector Management to your academic arsenal.


Explore opportunities as they arise

Sometimes, the size of your organisation determines your future much more than anything you’re doing (or not doing). For that reason, you’ll want to lean on all the connections you’ve made in the prior career-building steps.

Make it a point to find out if new challenges and opportunities have become available. And when such an opportunity presents itself―jump on it. Although you may be comfortable in your current role, you should never let that stop you from moving to a new employer where you may have a more accessible path to the top.

sending a speculative cv in the charity sector

Never stop growing

Becoming a manager in the charity sector won’t be a sprint but a marathon. There are no shortcuts available to help you build the necessary skills and experience. But the journey is as rewarding as the destination. As you learn and grow, you’ll come into contact with great people and great causes, and you’ll be inspired by all of them.

Do you feel as if you’ve exhausted all opportunities for growth in your current role? There are plenty of charities out there looking for someone with skills just like yours! Take a look at the roles available today on CharityJob.


This post was originally published in 2021. We’ve updated it to ensure relevance and to reflect the current job seeker experience.


Andrej Kovacevic

Andrej is an avid internet technologist and writer at WriterZone. He believes that the key to modern marketing excellence is a constant willingness to learn and adapt to the ever-changing digital world.

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