Impressive Recruitment Stats provide hope for Non Profit Sector

21 June 18

If news headlines are anything to go by, you could be forgiven for thinking the not for profit sector is in dire straits.


From the “food for sex” scandal at Oxfam through to pavement chuggers, via the collapse of Kids Company, 4Children and British Association of Adoption and Fostering to name a view, there’s no shortage of material for those with less sympathetic views of the not for profit sector.


The continuing bad headlines are impacting on public perception of charities.  According to Baroness Stowell, Chair of the Charity Commission, early findings of independent research on charity reputation made “sober” reading.


She said: “They show that people now trust charities no more than they trust the average stranger they meet on the street.”


You might think this would deter the brightest and most able graduates from seeing their career in the sector.  After all, there are no shortage of graduate schemes in the private and public sectors with many offering purposeful work.


Not so, if the recruitment statistics from the Charityworks Graduate Trainee Scheme are an indicator.


This year, Charityworks received over 5000 online applications for 140 placements, with no sign of any loss of enthusiasm from graduates wanting a career in the sector.  Their passion, enthusiasm and commitment to social value, evident at the numerous assessment centres to select the top applicants, remains undiminished in spite of the adverse publicity in the sector.


The lucky few selected gain a year’s paid placement to a carefully matched organisation and the opportunity to achieve an endorsed leadership qualification. This year nearly 100 organisations will participate including some high-profile charities.


The matching process takes place through the summer with placements across the UK starting in September.


Charityworks was the idea of a few determined individuals from the non-profit sector, led by Koreo CEO Rachel Whale.  The idea developed over a number of years before launching in 2008 with 3 trainees.


The idea stemmed from three factors: firstly, a recognition of the lack of a robust and successful talent development strategy in many non-profit organisations.


Secondly, an acknowledgment that people with exceptional talent and commitment were finding ithard to gain an entry route into the sector.


And thirdly,
a sense of frustration that working in the sector was rarely promoted as a career of choice despite its huge benefits.


Once the idea was articulated, it became a reality after the overwhelmingly positive reception it received in informal conversations, at focus groups, and the original support and commitment of the six founding organisations.


Ten years on, these factors are, if anything, more relevant given the very different graduate recruitment market and the greater scrutiny of non-profits.


There are still very few structured routes into the sector with many highly able graduates having little option but to take on low paid and sometimes unpaid internships.


Sadly, many talented applicants miss out on Charityworks such is the high threshold for selection.  Perhaps it’s the most surprising aspect of the programme that so few organisations participate in the scheme.


There are 200,000 charities in England and Wales with an estimated combined income of £64bn per year.  The quality of the candidates, the ease of participating in the scheme and the immediate and longer term organisational and sector benefits should make the majority think again about their lack of involvement.


Nevertheless, over its ten years Charityworks has grown steadily and now numbers hundreds of highly talented and committed alumni who have forged purposeful careers inside and out of the sector.


Against the backdrop of negative public perception, the success and increasing influence of the programme provides hope for a more reputable future.


Norman was commissioned to assist the Naval Families Federation as we embarked on a comprehensive review of our strategy. He is a skilled facilitator and helped us to ensure that the whole team’s input was heard and valued. His input gave us confidence in our approach and put us in a strong position to take forward work on our theory of change, and ultimately to deliver a coherent strategy to take the organisation forward.

Bridget Nicholson – Head of Strategy, Naval Families Federation