11 Careers in Philanthropy (With Salaries and Duties)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 21 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If helping others fulfils you, you may want to pursue a philanthropic career. There are a wide variety of careers in philanthropy, so most people can find one that suits their skills and interests. These careers can help you make a positive difference in the world and improve your mental and physical health. In this article, we explain what philanthropic careers are, how to secure them and list some excellent careers in this field.

What are careers in philanthropy?

Careers in philanthropy are vocations that promote the welfare of others. These careers champion important causes, including animals, social justice, the environment and education. People with these careers may help others directly, raise money for welfare efforts or increase awareness of the need for welfare. They have paid positions with philanthropic organisations, unlike people who volunteer their time.

How to secure a philanthropic job

People take many paths to secure jobs in philanthropy. Some roles require formal qualifications while others only need experience. Research the requirements of the roles you're interested in to prepare for your preferred job. Here are some of the common steps people take to secure a philanthropic job.

1. Volunteer with philanthropic organisations

Volunteering with philanthropic organisations can give you practical experience in philanthropy. Try to volunteer with organisations focused on issues you care about so your experience aligns with your aspirations. If you're unsure, try different volunteer roles so you can learn what you're most passionate about. As you become more experienced, you're likely to gain more responsibility and perform a wider range of tasks.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Volunteer Experience

2. Network with philanthropists

Networking with philanthropists gives you opportunities to learn from their experiences. You could network with philanthropists you admire when you're volunteering, at charity events and conferences and online. You might ask them questions about their careers and whether they have professional advice for you. Take note of the steps they took to secure their roles. If you get along well with a professional contact, you could ask them to mentor you.

3. Develop your skills

Consider the area of philanthropy you're most interested in and focus on attaining and developing important skills for its roles. For example, if you're interested in advocating for educational opportunities for Indigenous youth, you may focus on improving your communication skills. You may learn the languages of the Indigenous communities you plan to serve, take a grant writing course and join Toastmasters to practice your public speaking.

4. Get formal qualifications

Many important roles in philanthropic organisations require formal qualifications. If you aspire to advance in your career, consider getting formal qualifications in a relevant field. Degrees and certificates in business management, political science, international relations, law and social work are all valuable for philanthropic careers. You may work in the industries usually associated with these degrees before transitioning to a paid philanthropic role.

11 careers in philanthropy

Here are some of the philanthropic careers you may pursue:

1. Program assistant

National average salary: $61,716 per year

Primary duties: A program assistant gives administrative support to program team members. Their support is crucial through the program's life cycle, from its development and planning to its delivery and implementation. They may communicate with stakeholders, prepare and distribute documents and coordinate the program manager's schedule. They report to the program manager, although they may perform any tasks that team members delegate.

2. Grant writer

National average salary: $61,787 per year
Primary duties: A grant writer writes applications for funding grants. They carefully research the organisations awarding grants and tailor their applications to satisfy their criteria and interests. Strong communication skills help grant writers create persuasive, professional applications. They may check on the progress of the applications. If successful, a grant writer may also report to the awarding organisation on how each grant is used.

3. Mentor

National average salary: $70,745 per year

Primary duties: A mentor provides guidance to participants in philanthropic programs. Mentors form close relationships with participants and help them make the most of the opportunities the program provides. They meet regularly with their mentees and discuss their challenges and goals. They also offer advice that can help participants improve their lives. Mentors report to program managers and share the mentees' progress.

4. Manager of volunteer services

National average salary: $73,036 per year

Primary duties: A manager of volunteer services coordinates the efforts of volunteers who help a philanthropic organisation. They recruit new volunteers and train them to ensure they can successfully perform their roles. They also supervise the volunteers and motivate and support them as required. A manager of volunteer services may develop marketing materials to attract volunteers, manage volunteer schedules and delegate volunteers to different parts of the organisation.

5. Philanthropy manager

National average salary: $84,630 per year

Primary duties: A philanthropy manager supervises an organisation's philanthropic efforts. Philanthropy managers usually work for businesses with charitable foundations and companies who regularly make charity donations, such as retailers and manufacturers. They develop philanthropic initiatives that support the business' affiliated charities and align with their principles. Philanthropy managers lead a philanthropic team or department and ensure their initiatives run smoothly and have the desired impact. They may also encourage the business' employees to engage in volunteer work.

6. Relationship manager

National average salary: $86,829 per year

Primary duties: A relationship manager nurtures relationships with people that matter to an organisation. Relationship managers in philanthropy identify new donors and nurture relationships with existing donors so they feel valued and connected to the organisation and its work. They provide regular updates about how the organisation uses its donations and encourage donors to give generously.

Related: What Is a Relationship Manager? (And How to Become One)

7. Fundraising manager

National average salary: $88,106 per year
Primary duties: A fundraising manager supervises and coordinates a philanthropic organisation's efforts to make money. They work closely with a team from the organisation, donors, external stakeholders and members of the public to maximise fundraising efforts. Their creativity and initiative help them develop unique fundraising efforts and secure funding from a range of sources. They plan and implement all elements of fundraising programs, including their budgets, marketing programs and scheduling.

8. Research manager

National average salary: $97,104 per year

Primary duties: A research manager is an organisation's lead researcher. They're responsible for selecting research methodologies, including practices for data collection and analysis. They also ensure their research projects meet deadlines and budgets. Research managers in philanthropy gather and evaluate information about the organisation's key issues and programs. They present their findings to the organisation's board, government officials and the media. They may also appear at conferences and presentations. Research managers may work independently or with a team of researchers, including research associates and data analysts, depending on the organisation's size.

9. Advocacy manager

National average salary: $113,917 per year

Primary duties: An advocacy manager leads efforts to promote an organisation's missions and causes and inspire relevant change. They're responsible for all aspects of advocacy work, including planning and implementing advocacy strategy and identifying advocacy priorities. They share their knowledge about the issues the organisation works towards with its employees, policymakers, partner organisations and the public. Coordinating an advocacy team, the advocacy manager leads efforts to secure funding, change policies and improve the lives of people or animals in need. Developing and submitting funding proposals, managing grants and giving advocacy reports are all key responsibilities of an advocacy manager.

Related: What Is an Advocate Job? (With Job Duties and Skills)

10. Program manager

National average salary: $117,431 per year

Primary duties: A program manager oversees the strategy and delivery of an organisation's programs. They participate in all stages of the program's life cycle, from its development to its delivery and implementation. Throughout these processes they ensure their programs align with the organisation's principles and goals. Program managers in philanthropy may identify potential funding sources and develop aid and outreach strategies, such as social media campaigns and fundraising events. They also lead a program team and ensure that every member stays motivated and productive.

Related: What Is a Program Manager? (A Complete Guide)

11. Director

National average salary: $141,174 per year

Primary duties: A director is the head of an organisation. The director of a philanthropic organisation is ultimately responsible for making sure the organisation generates sustainable revenue. They develop fundraising strategies and approach potential donors. The strong relationships they build with key donors encourage their long-term support. The director is also a philanthropic organisation's spokesperson. They speak on the organisation's behalf to media, government officials and the public to raise awareness of the organisation and its mission.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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