How to Network Effectively in the Charity Sector

4 minute read

The world around us is changing, and as such, so is the way we network. With platforms like social media connecting us to hundreds (if not thousands) of people instantly, our networks are no longer limited by location. But this new digital space has its disadvantages. When you make quick online connections, it’s not always clear whether you’re actually building meaningful relationships, leaving you wondering how to network effectively.

A charity network connects you with the industry and helps inspire professional growth. It helps to build long-term relationships with other charity professionals—you never know when you might need someone’s assistance. And when it comes to taking that next career step, it doesn’t hurt to know a few people in high places.

Not sure where to start? Here are four easy ways to network effectively in the charity sector.

How to Network Effectively in the Charity Sector

1. Spend some time volunteering

It goes without saying that volunteering is a huge part of working in the charity sector. In fact, many people actually enter the sector through volunteer work. It’s the quickest way to make professional contacts and get your foot in the door. And even in difficult times, the sector always needs volunteers, so they’ll be grateful that you want to help out.

Plus, you get to connect with real people, so it’s a great way to network effectively. Whether you’re volunteering as a means of gaining work experience, to learn more about the sector or just to meet new people, it’s a great place to start.

Research the causes that mean something to you and find out which charities are looking for volunteers. It can help you discover a sense of purpose and even shape the direction of your charity career. And you get to be that extra pair of hands that many charity organisations so desperately need. So, it’s a win-win situation for you and the organisation.


2. Join a membership networking group

If you’re not sure how to network, or this is your first foray into networking, joining an online community can be a great first step. Most causes have forums or groups where they get together regularly to discuss issues or to plan the next course of action in their roles. This can exist anywhere from social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) to online communities (CharityConnect) and face-to-face.

This might be your best bet if you are looking to dive right into finding a solution or want to offer practical advice and experience. And an added bonus? Most of these networking groups put on useful webinars that can help you upskill and take that next step in your career.

How to Network Effectively in the Charity Sector

3. Attend a conference or event

If you’re feeling a bit bold and aren’t afraid to mingle with industry leaders, then you should consider attending a few networking events. There are both in-person and virtual events—you just need to find the ones that are in your niche. It means more opportunities to meet people from different types of charities. Most of these events will have talks from different industry leaders, so don’t be afraid to message them and ask them questions.

But remember, networking is not meant to be an aggressive way of handing out business cards or spamming someone’s inbox. It’s a way of building genuine connections and opening yourself up to others. There are plenty of online events to choose from, and the fact you don’t have to travel to get there means you can connect with people from all over the country. You can choose to attend an event on fundraising, governance, trusteeship or even volunteering.

CharityConnect run online ‘Connections’ events for those working in a charity role where members can hear from a charity speaker, get fresh ideas, then network in small groups with those in similar job types to them. If you don’t yet know how to network effectively, this is a perfect, gentle way to meet other charity sector professionals. Join the community to stay informed on when the next event will be.


4. Consider taking on a mentor

Looking to learn from someone with heaps of charity experience? Then why not reach out to someone who has your dream career and ask them to be your mentor?

Mentoring is a great way to gain a bit of clarity on what it’s like to work in a charity and what sort of skills you need to advance in your career. So pick a few organisations that you admire and find out who works for them. Then, simply connect via LinkedIn and ask them if they’d be willing to go for a coffee, or jump on the occasional video chat to discuss their role and how they got there.

It may seem scary to reach out to a total stranger, but most people who work in the sector love their jobs and would be more than happy to tell you why.

How to Network Effectively in the Charity Sector

So what are you waiting for?

Despite the fact that networking often feels like a bit of a ‘dirty word’, it can be a great way to drive your charity career in the right direction. And the best thing is that you don’t need to be an expert on how to network effectively in order to get started.

So get out there and start meeting other charity professionals! You might be surprised by what it accomplishes.

Looking for a new opportunity? Browse the latest charity roles.


This post was originally published in 2019 and has been updated to ensure relevance and to reflect the current job seeker experience.


Ayoola Bandele

Ayoola Bandele works as a Grantmaking Specialist and has previously administered government grants and developed community-building programmes for previous employers. She is passionate about helping others be the best versions of themselves through personal development, positively impacting lives and finding fulfilment. She supports causes such as poverty eradication amongst children and widows, women and youth empowerment, especially with victims of domestic violence, and promoting the Christian faith.

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