The 5 Skills You Need to Be Successful in 2021

4 minute read

When deciding which career path to take, the best advice is to follow your passion. If your passion is in helping people, charity work is definitely the best option. But working for a charity requires certain knowledge and skills. You may be passionate about doing good things in the world, but if you don’t have the right skills, you won’t last very long in a busy, and often emotional, charity environment.

Whether you are about to embark on a career in the charity sector or you’re already working for the industry for many years, here’s a list of the top skills that you should learn in the coming year.

The 5 Skills You Need to Be Successful in 2021

1. Interpersonal skills

Working for a charity will require you to communicate and interact with different people every single day. That’s why interpersonal skills are so important—they include things like social skills, people skills, communication and the ability to listen and speak with others. They also allow you to manage and control your emotions, which is very important during challenging situations. Learning to improve your interpersonal skills can help you carry out your tasks in the organisation more efficiently.

This is useful in charity work but also in any given situation. In fact, these skills are the foundation for success in life. Those who have strong interpersonal skills work well with others because they know how to communicate, whether it’s to their colleagues, donors or beneficiaries.

When developing your interpersonal skills, the first step is to identify areas for improvement. Self-reflection is a difficult but essential part of this. Then, focus on reviewing how you come across, e.g. facial expressions and body language, before you progress to the more advanced communication skills, like what words you are using. Finally, use and practice everything you have learned and apply it in certain situations in your work. The more you work on these skills and becoming self-aware, the easier your job will be.



2. Digital savvy

Just like with most organisations, charities in the UK are embracing the digital world and integrating modern technologies in their day-to-day operations. That’s why it’s important for charity workers to acquire more skills in digital technology.

Charities are often run like businesses and have to keep up with modern advances to stay relevant. Understanding the online world is vital, especially when it comes to handling people’s data. It’s not only important that charities can navigate the newest tools and software but they also need to be aware of data protection and GDPR guidelines. This can be easily remedied by all employees who handle personal data taking a short GDPR online training crash course, making sure they are compliant with the latest legislation. The training can benefit everyone within the organisation, from volunteers to board members.

Technology is fast evolving. And as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread across the world, more and more organisations are shifting to remote work, which heightens the need to learn computer skills. Technological advances like remote video calling and other online communications continue to transform the way charities communicate, fundraise and make decisions.

The 5 Skills You Need to Be Successful in 2021

3. Leadership skills

Good leadership in the third sector is very important since it usually requires managing both paid and unpaid employees to achieve a common mission. The ability to maintain good leadership relies on several key skills—the most important being flexibility and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

Of course, there are plenty of skills all good leaders should have in their arsenal. One of these being strategic thinking. It’s what distinguishes a leader from a manager. A good leader should be able to think strategically to achieve the organisation’s goals and missions. Another important skill is a positive management style. As a leader, you should motivate your people to work together for the overall success of the organisation.


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4. Safeguarding skills

Depending on the charity you work for, you may be dealing with children and vulnerable individuals. One of your responsibilities is to keep them safe from harm. Thus, learning about safeguarding is extremely important. Proper safeguarding training will ensure that you have the skills needed to keep children and vulnerable individuals safe.

Safeguarding training will cover a broad range of topics. First is recognising any signs of abuse and neglect. As a charity worker, you must be able to monitor people in your care and be conscious of their welfare. So once you recognise signs that they are in danger, you would be able to take proper actions.

In order to establish an environment built on trust, you must take safeguarding very seriously. It encourages proper communication within the organisation, from leaders to staff members and volunteers.  Providing staff with safeguarding training allows them to properly record and report incidences of abuse and neglect.

The 5 Skills You Need to Be Successful in 2021

5. Empathy skills

Empathy is probably one of the most crucial skills to have when working in the third sector. This is partly due to the nature of charity work, where you will be tasked to helping vulnerable individuals.

It’s about being aware of the emotions and feelings of other people. It refers to our ability to understand what others are experiencing and being able to apply it to ourselves.

In charities, understanding diversity is an important part of empathising—it’s about realising that everyone comes from different backgrounds and experiences. And it means being able to develop and create opportunities for different types of people. This does not necessarily mean treating everyone the same. Instead, it requires you to tailor the way you interact with people to understand their feelings and better address their concerns.



Preparing yourself for a rewarding, yet challenging career

Working in a charity is an amazing experience. You surround yourself with passionate people all working together to make a positive change in the world—and when you see the impacts first-hand, it can be life-changing. But that’s not to say it isn’t a challenging career choice.

So gear yourself up with the right skills. Learn to be empathetic. Be a strong leader. Get to know where the industry is going. The more skilled up you are, the better chance you’ll have of landing your dream job in the third sector.

Eager to get started? Take a look at the charities who are hiring now.

Virtual College

Virtual College is an online learning platform for individuals and bespoke learning for industry and the public sector. They provide many free courses and resources that are beneficial to the charity sector.

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