How to Prepare For a Career in an Advocacy Organization

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Advocacy organizations usually prefer candidates with strong fundraising and communication skills, since the organizations must always gather the support of the public to carry out their activities. There is expected to be a rise in advocacy jobs due to the expected increase in employment and turnover.

Nature of Work

Advocacy organizations work to improve their communities through addressing issues of public concern through independent action, civic engagement or service. These associations cater for all spheres of life from shelters for the homeless, little leagues, symphonies, natural resources for conservations resources, etc.



In general, advocacy institutions are generally referred to as “non-profit” because they are not businesses or government. Some of the other terms used to refer to them include: the third sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the philanthropic sector, the voluntary sector, the independent sector, and civil society organizations.

Advocacy organizations do not make profits for their investors or owners. This however does not mean that their revenue should not exceed their expenses, nor does it mean they cannot sell merchandise that will bring them revenue to enable them further their objectives.

Work Conditions

Most of the employees in advocacy organizations work in offices usually in teams, most of the time as volunteers. The conditions of work may vary depending on the type and size of the establishment. Those working in small organizations may find themselves working with outdated equipment in a cramped workspace. In larger and adequately funded establishments, employees’ working conditions are like those in the business industry. A work environment in most organizations is positive as workers are aware their service helps improves their neighborhood.

Top managers and employees in charge of fundraising may travel most of the time to visit supporters and meet potential donors. This is usually done during holidays or during weekends. Fundraising jobs can be stressful since the survival of the organization depends on its ability to raise enough funds and keep a healthy financial bill. Employees in social service organizations may also find their work stressful if they are dealing with child related issues like juvenile justice, child welfare, drug addiction, child care, child health and others.

Qualifications

In order to qualify for advocacy jobs, one requires having a professional degree in Social Work. Generally, one needs to have a bachelor’s of Social Work, and in the US in particular, you can study for a Master’s degree or a Doctoral degree.

Most states require that you are registered before they allow you to start your practice. The skills that are required for professionals in the fundraising organizations vary. The primary qualifications for fundraising jobs are fundraising and good communication skills. Initiative and creativity are also desirable qualities for people who are considering advocacy jobs. Job seekers who have basic knowledge in finance, business, management, advertising, information systems, and marketing are at an advantage over others who do not possess such qualifications when they are searching for jobs in the philanthropic industry.

To enter advocacy jobs, it is important first to acquire some experience as a volunteer. When you volunteer, you can know whether you like the organization, make contacts in the field, and show a commitment to the cause of the organization. Many schools and colleges encourage their students to seek volunteer opportunities in different non profit organizations. Many philanthropic organizations also have volunteer opportunities for students and individuals who want to gain experience in the industry.

Occupations

Fundraising and advocacy jobs vary but most of them are involved with management, financial, service, office administration and administrative support.

The advocacy careers in business, management and financial fields are involved with formulating policies and directing operations in the organization. In non- profit and publicly held organizations, the board of directors is responsible for any success or failures of the organization. However, in smaller organizations, executives perform most of the functions that the board of directors in larger organizations is responsible for.

There are also professional related occupations in the advocacy industry. Some of them include community and governmental relations, representation of interest groups, political campaigns, media, conflict mediation and investor relations. Those entering office and administrative positions in philanthropic organizations must have a high school diploma although a college degree is preferred. Familiarity with computers is also required by many employers, and good interpersonal skills and experience may give you better chances of landing the job.

Employment Outlook

The increase in turnover and employment is expected to contribute to increased job openings in advocacy and fundraising jobs. The salaries and wages for advocacy jobs are expected to increase in the coming decade. Job growth in the philanthropic industry will be driven by demographic and social shifts. An example is the increase in the elderly population, which will lead to a rise in demand for nursing homes and home health care. Other factors responsible for the increased demand include the rise in the number of refugees and immigrants, increase in the number of children born out of wedlock, increase in the number of divorce cases thereby increasing the number of single parent families, and a greater cultural diversity.

Expected Earnings

Most advocacy organizations pay an average of $15.81 an hour, which is lower than the pay for workers in the private industry which is $16.76. The lower pay is a reflection of the entry level and part-time jobs. The weekly earnings of employees in social and civic organizations average at $232, which is lower than that for employees in a private industry whose weekly earnings average at $568.

Directors and managers in the upper levels usually receive salaries. Salaries for entry-level jobs are based on experience and education, as well as budget, size and geographical location of the organization.

Conclusion

Advocacy and fundraising jobs are expected to increase in the coming years due to demographic and social shifts. Job seekers with a degree in social work will be most attractive to philanthropic organizations. In addition, experience, good communication, and fundraising skills are required for persons entering the advocacy industry.
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