Last year, The Charity Commission published its quarterly snapshot of registered charities in England and Wales. Out of 168,237 charities, only 1.3% were large organisations, which shows that the sector consists of primarily small organisations. So what does this mean for job seekers? With small charities making up almost 99% of the sector, there are plenty of opportunities for non-profit professionals to find the right fit in an intimate, hands-on environment. Here’s why you should consider working for a small charity.
Small charities are created with a very specific mission, whether that focuses on local issues or a niche area of need. They often grow from an individual’s experience, which means the vision is clear and consistent from the get-go. Their causes cover a whole range of issues, from caring for local stray cats to therapy for survivors of human trafficking, and often this work is face-to-face and hands-on. If you’re passionate about a particular cause, working for a small charity will allow you to get your hands dirty and get up-close and personal with the people (or animals) that need your help – what can be more rewarding than that?
Imagine working for a homeless charity where the office space is within the same building as the accommodation, food and training you provide for those who needed it. This sort of work environment allows you the chance to get to know the people you’re helping on a personal level and shows you the impact your work was having in a very real sense. This is an extremely powerful motivator.
Within a larger charity, the workers and service users don’t have as many opportunities to get to know the people they’re helping because of organisational structures. Although people at larger charities are very passionate about their causes, they less likely to come face to face with the problems they’re working to overcome.
Without a complex office hierarchy, you have far more freedom in the work you do day-to-day. You’re able to act more quickly on the important things and don’t have to worry about getting every task signed off by five different stakeholders before you can even plan a project. Faster turn-around means more opportunities for relevant, on-trend communications. And less complicated office structures means fewer clashes of interest. For example, communication execs and fundraisers are less likely to disagree as they could well be the same person!
Committed supporters are precious to small charities; they provide vital funding that helps keep the charity keep running. And the best part? These supporters are often as passionate about the cause as you are, if not more so. Getting to know these people on a personal basis is a wonderful experience. Many will work tirelessly for your cause, fundraising or volunteering, without desiring attention or thanks. On days when your job feels difficult, spending just five minutes with one of your most committed supporters will get you fired up and ready to overcome any barrier that comes your way. They are for your cause and energizing to be around.
One of the greatest joys of working for a smaller organisation is how varied your day-to-day can be. Your job title might suggest that you work in communications but you could find yourself running a fundraising event, designing a leaflet or any number of other tasks quite regularly. It’s chaotic and busy but there is something wonderful about working like this. Every day is a new adventure and anything could be thrown at you – plus it gives you the opportunity to build new skills and discover new elements of your job that you may not have even thought of.
Working in a small charity means that you have a chance to get to know your colleagues very well. The less of you there are, the more chances you have for collaboration. One of the many positives you can take from this is understanding your workmates and how they function. Getting to grips with your colleagues’ working patterns and quirks can be incredibly valuable and create a great environment. It can also inspire a more efficient team who know one another’s strengths. You’ll have a better chance of collaborating with each other and then there is far less space for confusion about your message, mission or vision.
Small charities are total game changers, they make up an important and valuable part of our society, and I hope you’ll agree that working for one sounds amazing. So, keep an eye out for jobs opportunities with small charities on CharityJob.