We’re over a month into 2021 and it’s starting to look like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, particularly when it comes to the job market. And that means you might want to start thinking pick up where you left off with your career plans. If you have your sights set on a charity leadership role, now’s the time 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 charity job of your dreams.
As charities generally have less budget for training, one of the best things you can do is to try and find a mentor 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 advance yours. We’re a smaller sector, with greater opportunity for networking, so be sure to make use of this.
In an ideal scenario, you’d want your mentor to be a part of your charity or another organisation you’re considering applying to. If you’re lucky, your mentor will also be able to help you to network. They can also support you in building connections that will come in handy when you go job-hunting. They can even become a valuable reference for you if you work hard to make them proud of you.
Volunteering will always be helpful when it comes to getting valuable experience for a charity leadership role. The big advantage of volunteering on a charity board is that 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.
There are some positions within the charity sector which do not require higher qualifications. These included marketing and fundraising roles. 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. These are a great place to start for anyone working in the sector, are particularly good for those looking for a charity leadership role. But if you’re aiming for a management-tier position, it’s a good idea to add an MBA in Voluntary Sector Management to your academic arsenal. And when you do earn that prestigious degree, make sure to update your CV using one of the many CV templates designed to highlight academic achievement. Charity employers will notice and appreciate your dedication to learning your craft, but only if they know about it without having to go digging.
Depending on which charity you’re presently working for, there may or may not be any path toward advancement available to you. 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 speak with the people in your network 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. And even if you can’t move up in your new role, you’ll be adding valuable experience that will propel your career ever-upward.
As you may have noticed by now, the path you must take to join the ranks of charity managers and executives 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. And in the end, that’s what you really need to advance in the charity world–and you’ll be ready when your time comes to shine.