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Calling all charity officers/administrators/seniors...

(13 Posts)
charidee Tue 13-Jan-09 20:51:31

I seem to have landed myself an interview for some part time charity work (admin based) and although I have the admin skills, I am trying to research what is unique about working for a charity - anything I really should know at this early, interview level?

thirtysomething Tue 13-Jan-09 21:19:01

Management is often done by a committee of relatively non-skilled well-meaning people, which roughly translated means often a bunch of retired teachers etc who don't know that much about the actual nitty-gritty of the job they're interviewing for and who interfere in decisions they'd be better advised to leave to those who do know the job inside out!! This is my experience of working for a couple of small charities....also, you'd be working with a lot of volunteers which is very different to working with paid staff as they may be very committed but are free to suddenly take a week off etc which creates extra work for paid staff. What sort of charity is it?

charidee Tue 13-Jan-09 21:43:09

Small charity, Christian principles, supporting orphans in the Far East, home-based admin work.

I take it you have a bit of a bad experience?!

AnotherFineMess Tue 13-Jan-09 21:46:42

Charitiess are all so different that I would personally leave off the 'working for a charity' angle and instead focus on their specific line of work. Perhaps research other similar charities, and perhaps it's helpful to be aware of some of the controviersies in the field, such as child sponsorship debates etc.

MrsMuddle Tue 13-Jan-09 22:26:39

I second thirtysomething's description of working for a management committee / board of trustees.

I've seen it work really well, but not as often as I've seen it end in stress for everyone.

MrsMuddle Tue 13-Jan-09 22:27:52

You might also want to ask about funding - where it comes from, and if it is secured for your position.

PottyCock Tue 13-Jan-09 22:30:34

Make sure the Board aren't complete plonkers/hobby managers.

I am the Director of a Charity and have a great Board...'noses in, fingers out' -if it doesn't work like that things can be very difficult. That goes for a lot of businesses though.

thirtysomething Wed 14-Jan-09 09:29:49

I think if it's home-based then there shouldn't be any issues with management committees sticking their oars in! My issues with a charity were to do with the management committee playing power games amongst themselves - all had several titles on separate committees within the organisation so it was hard to know who ultimately was boss, and they'd give me contradictory instructions - seemingly deliberately at times to outmaneouvre other committee members. I often wanted to tell them to grow up!! other than that I loved working for an organisation that had such sound aims and helped so many vulnerable people and I really enjoyed working alongside volunteers who were all from totally different walks of life and brought so much added value!! Good luck with your interview!

charidee Wed 14-Jan-09 09:33:56

Thanks all. There is a slight note of cynicism about the replies - I'm getting a feel for the potential downside of working for a charity! I'm not overly concerned about that (yet) because it's only a few hours a week, fits in with my circumstances now and keeps me in touch with the job market. Plus the money isn't bad and I think it would be good experience even if not long term.

Really I am interested in information that might be useful at interview level - my research so far seems to suggest that the whole sector is a completely different entity to any other and I want to have a basic grip on that. I suppose it's about governance, funding, managing volunteers etc.

charidee Wed 14-Jan-09 09:35:54

Thanks thirtysomething. Actually, I think I understand what you mean about internal politics and that's very irritating but I'm hoping that as it's described as a "PA" post I will generally be answerable to one person... I could just be naive however.

thirtysomething Wed 14-Jan-09 15:12:31

I've managed volunteers so if you need any tips on that just ask - my main advice would be to get to know what their general aims are for volunteering and something about their situation (ie have they got children/parents to care for, are they on long-term sick leave etc etc ) as it all affects their work pattern, length of commitment - i found that if i was totally understanding about school hols/ill children etc and created term-time exauivalent posts any parents volunteering instantly relaxed and just gave their all during term-time so it was win-win, especially as there were always students happy to do placements during holidays so that covered the gaps left by the parents. it's all about understanding people's situations, needs etc and finding the closing match to the charity's needs

thirtysomething Wed 14-Jan-09 15:13:38

sorry lots of typos - meant equivalent posts and closest match of course!

charidee Wed 14-Jan-09 19:15:03

good answer! thanks so much

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