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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, to name just a few.

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, or 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.

Resources:

  • Council on Foundations - The Council on Foundations provides resources about foundations and their work.
  • Top 50 Corporate Foundations - A list compiled by the Foundation Center of a link to the top corporate-backed foundations.
  • On Philanthropy - A newsletter about the work of foundations and philanthropists worldwide, it also has a section on jobs for foundations and philanthropy.
  • NCPPP - A national non-profit focused on leveraging and creating partnerships between the not-for-profit and private sectors.
  • Charity Navigator - The nation's largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities.