8 Skills & Qualities You Need to Excel in the Charity Sector

With malice towards none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us finish the work we are in - Abraham Lincoln

Do you have what it takes to make it in the charity sector? We summarise the top 8 skills and qualities you'll have if you want to impress. 

1. Enthusiasm and dedication for your chosen charitable cause

You'll need to demonstrate that you have the passion for the charity's aims and strategic direction. Voluntary work experience of some kind will be a great way to show this. 

2. Team-working and people skills

At university and beyond, get involved in projects or extra-curricular activities where you'll be able to show you can work in a team.

Perhaps you could assist in organising a charity ball or fashion show? Combining fundraising with working in a team will help you to stand out. 

3. Communication skills: oral and written

Much of a charity's work can be measured by it's ability to spread an effective message. Regardless of what role you apply to, you'll need to communicate with people both within a charity and externally and so you'll need to make sure your communications are top notch. Demonstrate this by writing a good C.V.

You'll be a can do person who can adapt to new situations and teams. 

4. Administrative and organisational skills

Like many a role, you'll need to be a natural organiser. There might be set processes that you have to follow or they'll be times where you'll be working under pressure and you'll need to make sure you've covered the nuts and bolts part of your work with aplomb.

5. Commercial / business awareness 

Charities need money to work - and they need to employ people who have the confidence to work with budgets and funders. Some day, you could be responsible for managing hundreds of millions of pounds. At the same time, all charities have to compete with one another for certain funding - be that from a business or the government. 

You'll need to be aware of what might affect a charity's ability to raise the necessary funds. For example, the credit crisis of 2008 saw an acute drop in charitable donations from both private and company donors. You'll need to be savvy as to how external factors might affect the sector. 

6. Pro-activity and flexibility

You'll be a can do person who can adapt to new situations and teams. You'll be someone who can happily go from working intensively at your desk one day, to assisting on a charity run at the weekend. 

You'll need to be savvy as to how external commercial factors might affect the sector. 

7. Willingness to undertake routine jobs

All jobs come with the fair share of admin. We'd love to say they didn't, but it's a universal truth and due to the accountability required by many charities, it can seem that more exists in this sector.

You'll need to be someone who, from time to time, respects why certain processes are in place.  Of course you might find them frustrating, but they do exist for a reason.

8. Languages 

Finally, in some cases, where posts may be international, a second language may be advantageous. For more UK-based roles, only speaking English will not hinder you, but it's worth bearing in mind that if you want to work for an international charity and potentially move abroad at some point, languages can certainly help you.

Think you fit the bill? Check out our Top Tips on How to Get a Graduate Role in Charity