What Does It Take to Move from Corporate to the Charity Sector?
There’s no shortage of people looking to leave the business sector and find more fulfilling work. In fact, 2.6 million people in the UK feel unfulfilled at work and have the relevant transferrable skills to make the switch to non-profit. Naturally, the charity sector is the first thing that comes to mind when you weigh out your options and start researching roles that give something back or do more good. I’ve been on a similar journey, so I understand the concerns that come into play when you look at leaving a job you know for something completely new. Change is always a scary concept, but when the end result overwhelmingly justifies the journey, it’s totally worth it.
Deciding to pursue a more meaningful career
Currently, I work as a Fundraising Manager at St Andrews Hospice Airdrie Scotland. My role is quite varied, but the primary focus is ensuring my team meets our weekly target to cover the cost of running the hospice. St Andrews Hospice covers North and South of Lanarkshire and is the biggest hospice across Scotland to offer palliative care to people with a life-limiting illness.
But this wasn’t always my career path. I didn’t come from the non-profit sector, but I knew I wanted to work somewhere that allowed me to give something back to my community. Before St Andrew’s Hospice, I worked for HSBC as a People Management and Corporate Sustainability Specialist. Part of this role entailed working with national and local charities by creating events for HSBC sites and branches to network and take part in raising money. This was my first taste of the sort of good the non-profit sector could do. It felt really good to help people and support the work charities were doing.
Tailoring my experience to the charity sector
It’s no surprise that the corporate world is very different from the third sector. I loved my job working at the bank and was there for eighteen years before I made the decision to shift away from the financial world and started applying for vacancies in the charity sector. I managed to get a few interviews but my feedback was always the same: someone else has more third sector experience than you.
So, when I applied to St Andrews Hospice, I decided to tackle this criticism head-on. I was from the private sector but had transferable skills, experiences and the passion to succeed in the third sector. During my interview, I went out of my way to convince the board that my people management and engagement skills could only enhance the charity as I’m a natural at building trusting relationships. I would empower their people and take the charity forward by increasing their income base. Ultimately, this worked in my favour.
Getting past the fear of change
I had my own reservations about this massive life change, but doing some good and helping others outweighed everything else. Yes, there were some challenges around me coming from the other side of the coin as I was used to corporate big spending with worldwide banks that have plenty to spend on charity and community partnerships. But I had relevant-enough experience and a drive to succeed.
I knew I wanted to work for an organisation that was aligned with my passions. In order for me to reach my goal, I had to move to the charity sector on a full-time basis and gain the experience I need to have that impact. Ultimately, I wanted to work with a charity that helped animals, but this was the first step I needed to take to get my foot in the door.
Breaking into the charity sector
Before I started working at St Andrews Hospice, I regularly checked for new charity jobs and looked at the skills required for these types of roles. In my spare time, I volunteered at animal charities, which gave me more hands-on experience and allowed me to do what I loved by saving animals from abuse and cruelty.
Ultimately, getting the job at St Andrews has allowed me a step in the right direction by giving me that experience and familiarising me with the sector. I love my role here, it’s such a lovely place and very close to my heart. And who knows what’s next for me – maybe my next role will allow me to truly pursue my passions and spend my time protecting animals from abuse, neglect and suffering.
If you’re trying to take the leap of faith into the charity sector, keep going. The path may not be an easy one to travel through. But it is definitely worth it. Have you been trying to shift into the charity sector? Share your story with us by commenting below! For a full overview of what charities are currently hiring, take a look at our vacancy page.
I currently manage all community and events team at St Andrews Hospice. I love working for a local charity to make a real difference within the community. My passion in life is animals and I support many animal charities to give all animals a voice. I try to eat healthy and drink gallons of green tea and gin.