Career Resources

Charities and Foundations

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Charities and Foundations Overview

Charities are organizations or institutions that provide help to the poor or others in need. Charities may or may not be affiliated with religious groups, and may be focused on a particular need, such as healthcare, the environment, civil rights or children. Foundations are institutions or organizations that have been created by an endowment. Sometimes foundations donate to or finance other organizations; other times, they may support their own charitable activities. Examples include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trust Foundation.

Career Paths

There are many possible career paths within charities, including development officer, executive director, director of finance, grant writer, public services manager and marketing director. In general, volunteering for a charity is a good way to make connections within the organization, and to become familiar with its everyday activities. Almost all foundations have program officers that help identify, award, coordinate, and follow up with grants their foundation gives out. However, many foundations, including corporate foundations, run programs of their own in addition to supporting non-profits, schools, or individuals. Foundations may also fill positions in fields such as human resources, communications, law and finance, and may also have internship positions. Positions at foundations are among the most favored of non-profit jobs, often because they pay better and have better benefits due to their consistent funding. They also often employ more people, resulting in an easier workload for each employee. Consider volunteering for a foundation to get a foot in the door, particularly when competition for positions is tough. Working at a foundation often requires a master's degree.

CCE Resources

Columbia Resources

Select On-Campus Centers and Programs
  • Double Discovery Center: The Double Discovery Center of Columbia College works with low-income and first generation college Manhattan area youth and youth adults age 12 through 27 each year to ensure academic skills building and focus, high school graduation, college entrance and completion, and responsible adulthood.
  • Community Impact: Community Impact is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to serving disadvantaged people in the Morningside Heights, Harlem, and Washington Heights communities.
  • Columbia Community Outreach: Columbia Community Outreach (CCO) coordinates Columbia University's largest day of community service.  In recent years, projects have included rebeautifying parks, serving food in soup kitchens, running errands for homeless shelters, and performing administrative work at neighboring schools.
  • Arts Initiative Columbia University: A pioneering venture to make arts and culture a meaningful part of every Columbian's experience.
  • Undergraduate Research: Faculty and researchers throughout the University are keen to include undergraduates in their research, and offer a variety of fellowship opportunities.

External Resources

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Last updated January 2015