Since March 2020, the charity sector has faced challenges like never before. Not only have the traditional fundraising activities had to cease, but consumers and businesses are reining in their budgets, which makes fundraising efforts doubly difficult, something which is especially concerning in light of the increased demand that many people are putting on charitable initiatives.
Charities have been forced into making cost cuts and sadly these frequently take the form of multiple redundancies. Indeed, Think NPC has been charting the total redundancies announced by charities, with at least 6,500 job losses announced since May of this year.
However, there are some signs of green shoots in the sector. Many international charities that are playing a role in the fight against COVID-19 are receiving funding and the Charities Aid Foundation has just announced a £20m fund to support charitable initiatives. Many individual donors are matching funding pledges, and importantly, there is support out there for a sector which helps so many of us.
The charity sector remains hugely rewarding as a career option for finance professionals. It may face many challenges in the current climate, but there are jobs out there, and these are in high demand. Here we have outlined some of the hiring trends that we are experiencing at the moment in the third sector.
Positivity and Commercial Acumen are high priorities, but support for the cause remains
Clients want positivity and a ‘can do’ attitude. As well as the usual financial qualifications and experience, charities are looking for candidates who have strong commercial acumen, a determination to get things done, and a willingness to put time in to support the business, beyond the day to day responsibilities.
Candidates should demonstrate proactivity, they need to be competitive to secure funding, putting in the time and effort to build a solid case.
At the same time, charities will continue to look for people who are obviously passionate about their cause, and this will play a vital role in the final hiring decision.
Experienced candidates are in demand, but within reason
For the first time in many years, we have recently seen the market change from being candidate led to one that is client led. Put simply, there are far more candidates available for each role than ever before, and the calibre of these applicants is incredibly high. As a result, clients are able to be more demanding about the experience they require from potential candidates and could be tempted to employ someone with decades of experience for a typical entry-level role.
However, this is also balanced by a charity’s determination to recruit someone for the long term. Those who are overqualified are often considered more likely to leave when more jobs become available as the economy once again picks up. While a charity might benefit in the short term from the individual’s greater experience, they won’t necessarily have that individual in the long term and may have to look at re-hiring for that role sooner than they would usually anticipate.
With that in mind we are advising clients to take a cautious approach and truly consider the individual, and their career, rather than simply going for those who have the most experience.
Transformation experience will be sought after
Those financial professionals who have experience of managing transformation programmes or being part of transformation teams will be in demand the coming months as charities begin to implement restructuring programmes. While these might not be permanent roles, they will be longer-term interim roles, generally lasting around a year to 18 months.
Charities are facing a huge number of organisational challenges, at a time when their services are often more in demand than ever before. For those who are considering a move into the third sector, it’s important to remember that it remains a hugely rewarding place to work. There are opportunities out there in the sector, which individuals can benefit from in both a personal and professional capacity.
If you are interested in opportunities in the charity sector, or to discuss your hiring needs, please contact Katiewilsonsmith@robertsonbell.co.uk