Charity Works for Happiness
We all know the phrases… Money doesn’t grow on trees. Money is the root of all evil. Money can’t buy you happiness…
But research has found that giving money to other people in need gives us more of a kick than the usual therapies, like spending it! We all recognise that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you do something good for someone else.
“I got into charity work and volunteering around 6 months ago. My career to date has been in sales and pretty centred round earning commission for myself (all fairly selfish stuff!). But around 5 months ago I started to feel slightly unfulfilled and due to some changes in personal circumstances, I realised I needed to do something to give back. Homelessness is something I’m really passionate about, particularly living in London where you see so many vulnerable people living on the streets everyday. It breaks my heart, particularly in the winter months when it’s so cold.
I found this amazing charity online called StreetLytes that serves vulnerable and homeless people a 3 course meal every Monday, with a movie and clothes donations. It’s absolutely brilliant and makes me love Mondays. I’m lucky I have flexible hours at work and my boss is happy for me to leave a bit early to go down there. Since volunteering at StreetLytes, I’ve started my own little project of handing out socks to rough sleepers around London – one day I hope to turn it into a registered charity, but at the moment it’s just me and some socks! I also did Crisis at Christmas last year, which everybody should experience – it’s so rewarding and the guests and volunteers you meet are very special.
Following this, I’ve launched a Corporate Social Responsibility team in my company. I sent a few emails out and spoke to some people to see if there was an interest to do more and the response was incredible. We have 3 European offices which all now raise money for local charities, as well as giving approval for each team to do 2 days of volunteering per year (without taking annual leave). In addition, I convinced the Founders to offer discounted pricing for charity clients and we even did a pro bono project for one particular charity.”
We spoke to another young professional Lizzie, who started as a volunteer for Save the Children, and now has a full-time job as their Humanitarian Information and Communications Officer.
How did you move from being a volunteer to getting a full-time role?
I would call it a mixture of luck, good networking, and strong determination! I had been working as a PR Manager for Knight Frank (property) for about three years. Outside of working hours I was doing a couple of volunteer jobs in the third sector (i.e. charities, social enterprises, voluntary and community groups), and I was eager to make the move. For about five months I applied for various PR/Communications charity roles, via charity recruitment websites but I was unsuccessful. A friend who worked in the third sector introduced me to a contact in a charity recruitment agency and I was able to sign up. Just as I was beginning to receive interview requests for various roles, I discovered that my friend’s dad worked as Humanitarian Director for Save the Children International… GOOD contact! It was a time when there was a shift in public sentiment towards refugees arriving to Europe and consequently they were massively scaling up to respond and needed extra surge support. I contacted my friend’s dad and eventually was offered an unpaid volunteer internship for 1 month. I didn’t hesitate and quickly handed in my notice. Once I started, I made sure to take any opportunity that was offered to me. I was fortunate that I started in the height of the European refugee crisis and there was plenty of work to be getting on with. A month later I was offered a 2 month communications internship in their office in Sierra Leone. I was then offered a full-time job as Communications Officer for International Programs, which I did for 6 months (with a 2 month deployment at the end working on the Greece refugee response). I then applied to work as Humanitarian Information and Communications Officer, which is my current role today.
Please could you outline the role and the work you do?
For me, this is my perfect role as I work at the forefront of emergency responses, so far working for our Search and Rescue response in the Med and our hunger crisis response in the Horn of Africa (Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia). This involves delivering information and communication products in emergencies that enable excellent media and fundraising activities across the organisation. My role is 50% deployable so I work half the time in the London office and half the time on emergency responses in the field, gathering cases studies of our beneficiaries, producing reports on our response, and creating common messaging on responses that the whole organisation can communicate.
What is it like working for a charity?
Working for Save the Children has given me a unique insight into international affairs and how to tackle global issues. I never stop learning about new countries where we operate, and how our charity can best protect children in times of crisis. Operating in 120 countries, Save the Children is a big organisation and after 1 ½ years working there I am still learning how all the roles around the world function and work together. It can be challenging at times to understand this but I wouldn’t have it any other way, as I am constantly gaining knowledge and building new relationships. When on deployment, it is important to note that the hours can be very long but seeing the impact that we make, for me it makes it all worthwhile
What would be your advice to someone looking to work for a charity?
- Make sure that your CV shows that you have an interest in the third sector e.g. volunteering.
- Networking is key – try to establish contacts in the third sector to seek opportunities.
- Determination – charities will be eager to hire you if you are passionate about the cause and willing to do whatever it takes to support it.
Inspired? Here’s how you could get involved, from full-time paid work to volunteering.
Work for a charity
Look up your chosen charity or search opportunities here:
Charity & fundraising jobs plus volunteer roles around the country
Get involved in your company charity scheme
If they don’t have one, express your passion to your employer and see if you can set up a corporate social responsibility initiative.
Regular volunteer work a couple of times a week, or just helping someone out (like an elderly neighbour) can provide routine, purpose and a sense of responsibility. (It also adds kudos to your CV!)
Find out more and check where you could volunteer locally: