Am I done with the charity sector?
I know it’s the time of year when we’re expected to be full of festive spirit, but as 2014 draws to a close I find myself wondering if the time has come to wish the charity sector a fond farewell.
I stumbled into the sector and didn’t really expect to stay here. I’m not sure why, but I imagined it would be a stepping stone onto something and somewhere else.
Don’t get me wrong, I love working for organisations doing work I’m incredibly passionate about. I love the privilege of hearing and spreading incredibly inspirational stories of people whose lives have been fundamentally changed and transformed by the work of the organisations I’ve worked for. I’m hugely proud to work for a sector at the very forefront of so much innovation and imagination – constantly with an eye on it benefitting someone who may not ever be able to thank you for it. I delight in a sector that, while often criticised and knocked, faces down the criticism, keeps going and tries again and again.
But, then there are the exhausting parts of the job – like having to constantly defend my CEO’s or senior staff’s salary to friends and family. I happen to know many of the higher ranking colleagues I have worked with over the years have come from the corporate sector and taken significant reductions in income to come and bring their, not inconsiderable, skills to a sector sorely in need of them.
I’m also tired of being asked, or sometimes just expected, to do increasing amounts of activity for free, sometimes getting the time back, sometimes not. I’m irritated by the sacrifices I’m expected to make of my personal life, and the sacrifices my family are expected to make because I still want to change the world and the lives of so many people in it. I’m flagging from many years of not being paid the going rate for my skills and experience. Witnessing my CV go into decline as I take on bigger jobs for insufficient pay.
I know this is probably just a minor aberration. It‘s the end of a long and exhausting year, filled with stress and frustration. l also know this year there are people who are living much improved lives as a result of the work my organisation has done over the past twelve months. Which is why I won’t be leaving the sector, not just yet anyway.
Do you also go through these phases? How do you get out of it?