The Ultimate Charity Cover Letter Guide
You’ve spent countless hours editing your CV, read every bit of interview advice that Google has to offer, and there’s still more work to do in the form of your charity cover letter!
Charities want people with drive and passion, as well as experience. People who not only do the job well but do it with limited resources. So how do you show that you’re the candidate they’re looking for?
If you’re wondering how to write a charity cover letter, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to help you thoroughly understand the basics and tailor your charity cover letter to your particular strengths and experience. Follow these steps, and you’ll be remembered for all the right reasons…
What’s the point of a charity cover letter?
Whatever role you’re applying for, a cover letter is about introducing yourself as a candidate and encouraging the recruiter to read your CV. It’s an opportunity to impress, prove your experience and talk passionately about your current and future career.
It’s especially important to write a well-researched and passionate cover letter for a charity job. Just a few paragraphs will show you’re committed to helping the organisation make a difference and explain what kind of unique skills you can offer.
How to write a cover letter for a charity job
- If you’re applying through email, put your charity cover letter in the main body of the email so the reader doesn’t have to hunt through attachments.
- Address a specific person if you can. It’s far more personal and shows you’ve done your research. If you can’t find the name of the hiring manager, try to avoid archaic phrases like ‘Dear Sir or Madam.’ Instead address the letter to the head of department for the role.
- Keep it brief! Your cover letter shouldn’t be longer than a page of A4—but, ideally, it’d be around half. This gives you plenty of room to share the high-level details of why you’d make a great addition to the team but still forces you to be meaningful and concise.
- Don’t just repeat your CV. This is your chance to expand on any skills or achievements that you’re particularly proud of. Remember to focus on the ones that are most relevant to the role for which you’re applying.
- Sign off by thanking them for their time and encouraging them to open and read your CV.
- End with a professional email signature. It’s a nice, neat way to end—plus, your contact details will be in a prime position!
1. Get the structure right
The structure of your cover letter is largely up to you. But there is a common layout you can follow to ensure you’re including all the relevant information.
Typically, a cover letter for a charity job would include the following sections:
- Introduction – State which position you’re interested in and why. You might also wish to say where you found the role (for example, on their social media or the charity website).
- Paragraph one – Set out your most relevant skills and experience and showcase how they match those featured in the job description.
- Paragraph two – Delve a little deeper into your most relevant experience, focusing on the outcomes that you achieved.
- Final paragraph – Include a call to action such as requesting an interview or letting them know your availability.
2. Show you’ve researched the charity in detail
Every charity has different aims, challenges and priorities and will be working with different types of people in different circumstances. Get to know their work by looking at their current campaigns and reading their reports.
The organisation you’re applying to will be impressed if you already understand what they’re trying to achieve and why. This shows that you know what the role will involve, and that you’re committed to the same goals.
3. Tailor it to the specific job description
Your charity cover letter will be much more impactful if it’s specific. Even if you choose to use a template to help you with your application, make sure you’re writing a unique letter each time. The charity should know your cover letter has been written just for them and their role, not one that you’ve recycled over and over.
Look at the specifics mentioned in the job ad and requirements list, and then explain what relevant skills and experience you have to match. These will already be on your CV, but your cover letter is the ideal place to explain them in more detail.
And don’t underestimate the power of transferable skills. If you don’t have charity-specific experience, explain how some of the skills you gained from your previous job will apply in a charity context.
4. Prove you’re a great fit
It’s okay to explain why you think you’ll be a great addition to the charity’s team, but it’s much better to prove it. Recruiters in any sector like to see tangible examples, rather than statements that sound a bit vague or non-specific, because it shows what kind of impact you could bring to the role.
So, make sure your charity cover letter proves that your experience and skills have actually led to positive results. These will inevitably differ depending on your specialism, but it might include working on influential projects, bringing in lots of donations, team leadership or any other big achievements.
For example, for an email marketing role you could write:
“As Email Marketing Manager, I was responsible for setting up email automation for the charity. I also segmented the database by donor, with the aim of delivering more relevant content. As a result, average open rates increased by 23% and click through rates by 61%.”
Or for an Events Assistant:
“I successfully organised and ran 10 events last year. The registration and turn-out rate increased from 65% on my arrival to 89% by the end of the year, leading to an increased ROI.”
5. Be passionate and committed
Cover letters shouldn’t be generic―you must use this opportunity to explain why you’re the person they should consider for the position. If you’re familiar with the organisation’s work, ask yourself: which campaigns really struck a chord? Are their values aligned with your own?
A charity depends on its passionate and committed team, so this is an essential attribute in a candidate. Be authentic and tell them why you care!
Mention any voluntary experience you’ve had in the past and how this has influenced your career progression. Hiring managers want to know that you’re genuinely interested in the industry (and feel confident that you can contribute to it!).
And that’s it. Keep it simple, poignant and passionate. A bit of enthusiasm will go a long way, especially in the charity sector.
If you need a bit more guidance, download our free charity cover letter template.
Want to test these tips? Take a look at all the opportunities CharityJob has to offer here.
This post was originally published in 2021 and has been updated to ensure relevance and to reflect the current job seeker experience.
Don't miss another post, sign up to our weekly newsletter
Andrew Fennell is the founder and director of StandOut CV, a leading CV builder and careers advice website. He is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to publications like Business Insider, The Guardian, and the Independent.