New Year, New Philanthropy Job?

*Note: It is a common misconception that philanthropy jobs look like this, be prepared for piles of paper and no private jet.


I've heard from many of my recruiter friends that January is a prime time for organizations to start searches because people often make New Year's resoultions to get a new job. If you have a resolution to get a job in the philanthropic field, here are a few pieces of advice to help you on your journey:

Develop Expertise: Lots of foundations (especially community foundations or unstaffed foundations) need volunteers to help them make grantmaking decisions. Volunteer your services and build some expertise in grantmaking.  As Rosetta Thurman says "don't volunteer for free", get some new skills out of it.

Build a Strong Network: While you are volunteering, build your network. Use that foot in the door to attend philanthropy conferences or foundation briefings. I got my first volunteer opportunity in philanthropy by sneaking into a Joint Affinity Group meeting. A funder that I knew saw me there and asked me if I was interested in being on one of their grant review committees, that led to consulting work with that foundation, and then to a job there as a program officer. (Check out my post "So you wanna be a Program Officer" for more tips on how to get a job reviewing grants)

Brand Yourself: Different foundations have different brands, for example academic, community-focused, cutting edge, or stuffy. Find a foundation that aligns with your personal brand and make sure that your resume and cover letter highlight your brand.

Take the Leap: It is easy to psyc yourself out and not apply for your dream philanthropy job. Sometimes you have to suck it up and take a chance. If you want to make a difference through grantmaking, prepare and be willing to take the leap.