The Ultimate Charity Cover Letter Guide
Charities and non-profits are motivated by far more than money, so it’s only natural they’d look for inspiring candidates with strong principles and lots of passion. They want people with drive 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?
These days, many charity recruiters are turning to online applications to get to a more rounded understanding of a candidate’s experience and motivations. Online applications provide you more opportunities to sell yourself, with questions that allow you to elaborate on particular experience.
But what about the organisations that are after a more traditional CV and cover letter? How do you accomplish everything an online application offers in just a few succinct paragraphs?
First, you need to understand the basics. Then, you need to tailor it to your particular strengths and experience. Let’s explore how to do just that.
What’s the point of a 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.
If you’re applying for a charity sector job, it’s especially important to write a well-researched and passionate cover letter. 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.
The cover letter essentials you need to know:
- If you’re applying through email, put your 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.
- Keep it brief! The perfect cover letter length is constantly debated, but it’s generally best to keep it short and snappy. It certainly 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.
- 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. 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 non-profit you’re applying to will be impressed if you already understand what they’re trying to achieve and why. This shows you know what the role will involve, and that you’re committed to the same goals.
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2. Tailor it to the specific job description
Your cover letter will be much more impactful if it’s specific. 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 from you gained from your previous job will apply in a charity context.
3. 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 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.
4. Be passionate and committed
Tell the charity what you love about their mission statement and how it matches your own beliefs and values. Explain what it is about their cause that resonates with you and why that makes you want to work for them. 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!
These cover letter essentials will make a big difference to how charity recruiters see you as a candidate. Passion, experience and eagerness are all really important in the charity sector but communicating what you’ve got to offer in a clear, memorable way is even more important.
And that’s it. Keep it simple, poignant and passionate. A bit of enthusiasm will go a long way, especially in the charity sector.
Got any other burning questions or tips you’d like to share? Let us know in the comment section below. And if you need a bit more guidance, download our free charity cover letter template.