Should You Be Working for a Small or Large Charity?

Should You Be Working for a Small or Large Charity?

CharityJob | 8 November 2018

UK charities range in size from a handful of employees to several thousand, so how can you be sure which environment is right for you? Whether you are looking for your next move or your first role in fundraising, CharityJob has summarised the pros and cons of working for both small and large charities.

The benefits of working for a small charity…

At the end of 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 means the sector consists of primarily small (and very small) organisations.

In light of recent misconduct in some of the big name non-profits, people in the UK have become increasingly more likely to donate to community-based organisations. Research from the University of Wollongong  showed that the general public were more receptive to local charities because they felt that their donations were actually making a difference.

Beyond that, small charities offer an intimate and close-knit working environment. A compact team provides more chances for collaboration and far less confusion about your fundraising vision. You’re also more likely to be on the ground working directly with the community and getting to know the people you’re helping.

This means you’re able to build closer bonds with your donors. Supporters of small charities are just as passionate about the cause as you are, if not more, giving you the opportunity to build up personal connections.

…And the downside?

Of the 168,237 charities reported by the Charity Commission, 97% of the income across the sector was raised by big charities. This means small organisations need to work harder for their donations and are often competing with the ‘brand name’ charities people are exposed to every day. The good news is, there is plenty of support out there to help fundraisers attract big donors.

Staff turnover in small charities also tends to be quite rapid, mostly because many of these organisations only have the capacity to offer short-term contracts.

Less staff means more multi-functional roles. It’s likely you’ll have to pick up a few new skills (i.e. design, email marketing, social media), adopting a one-man-band mentality to ensure your fundraising efforts reach the right audience.

The benefits of working for a big charity…

Large charities, on the other hand, tend to be more structured and provide more support for fundraisers. In general, more people means more resources, with a range of in-house specialists at hand for a variety of tasks.

A more defined company structure also means clearer leadership and job responsibility. With more people in the office, you’re less likely to have to pick up tasks outside your job role. This may change during busy campaigns, but your day-to-day responsibilities are more clear cut.

There is also far less pressure on you to build brand authority for your organisation. If you’re a big name charity, people already know about your cause so you’re guaranteed to have donors. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room to grow, but it’s less work in building donor loyalty from scratch.

…And the downside?

As with any big organisation, every project and new idea needs to be reviewed and approved by several stakeholders, which leaves little room for spontaneity. It also means you’re more removed from your donors – with so many people donating to your cause there’s less opportunity to reach out and build personal relationships.

A larger organisation is also subject to more media scrutiny. If any misconduct occurs in your charity, it’s going to reflect poorly on the organisation as a whole and can have a direct impact on your fundraising efforts.

So, are you looking for intimacy or a more defined organisational structure? Do you want to be closer to the community or building on a big brand name? Whatever your motivations, there are plenty of opportunities across the sector to get your hands dirty and start reaching out to donors for a worthy cause.

Not sure where to start? Explore all available fundraising roles on the CharityJob page today.

Stephanie Dotto, Content and SEO Lead at CharityJob



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