An overseas charity advertising manager is responsible for increasing revenues which are donated to charities in other countries. They are often on-the-ground operatives tasked with setting aside funds to finance the operational objective of a charity.
The global recession made things very tough for domestic charities operating in the UK. As people found they had less disposable income each month, they were less inclined to give to charitable causes. Regular funding is essential for charities to be able to operate, regardless of their aim or cause. Charities which operate in countries outside the UK or the EU often face challenges besides the priority mission of raising capital: they typically have to deal with wildly differing legislation, political instability, poverty, a possible lack of infrastructure or bureaucratic headaches in addition to raising funds.
An overseas advertising manager for charity organisations must overcome these additional challenges whilst focusing on their core mission, which is to increase the volume of charitable donations coming in to the charity. They will organise fund-raising events, complete marketing-led participation events and photography trips to aid distribution sites, administer project campaigns, set up partnerships with local and international business and release press statements to raise awareness for their organisation.
Candidates do not join charitable organisations because of the promise of high remuneration or an excellent benefits package. However, one benefit which other jobs do not offer is the feeling of contribution, a sense of team participation, and an overwhelming sensation of self-worth for a job well done; for many, just helping others is reward enough.
In realistic terms, charity work overseas often begins with an unpaid voluntary role, although candidates who are willing to complete the complex move overseas should at least receive free food and accommodation in return for their efforts. It is when people move to the opposite hemisphere and find there is little support for their endeavours that they tend to return home very quickly. An “on-the-ground” charity role in an unpaid capacity can often yield the possibility of a paid position as an advertising manager, and the salary varies hugely depending on the country of placement. In Thailand, for example, charity advertising managers will typically begin with a salary of £10,000 to £12,000; this sounds like poor remuneration, but candidates should bear in mind that living costs in other countries are often much lower than in the UK.
- Design and manage a range of marketing activities to encourage financial contribution.
- Raise awareness for the charity and its core operational aims.
- Write promotional copy for all advertising formats.
- Liaise with newspapers, magazines and TV to gain promotional exposure.
- Organise photographic and advertorial marketing case studies for use as future promotional material.
- Assist with on-the-ground operations, including distribution of aid.
- Assist or manage administrative functions of the charity.
There are no formal academic barriers to entry, and this is a big reason why candidates choose to do an unpaid year out of the UK; it is great CV material and opens up a realm of new possibility in terms of skills development. The candidate can then use these newly acquired attributes when searching for a long-term placement upon their return to their native country.
The range of skills a charity advertising manager needs can be broad, depending on the organisation.
- In charities with many staff members and clearly defined job roles, the advertising manager may just look after funds acquisition.
- In a smaller organisation, the role will be much more hands-on, and the candidate will be expected to participate in all aspects of the charity’s work.
- Generally, the candidate should have good interpersonal skills and be a good communicator.
- Must be a tireless worker
- Must have at least a reasonable understanding of marketing or advertising.
This is impossible to speculate on, as the advertising manager could be working from a plush office in a European capital city, or handwriting notes from the back of a Toyota Land Cruiser in Laos. Generally, candidates should be aware that risks faced in faraway countries differ significantly to what they may be exposed to here in the UK. It is worth checking the Foreign Office web site for travel advice before agreeing to move to a foreign country. Protecting oneself is all about strong learning and prior research.
Of particular (and common) relevance are threats from possible robbery, physical harm, risks to health (including hepatitis, yellow fever and HIV/AIDS), danger posed on the roads, risk of imprisonment due to negligence and difficulties posed generally by language and cultural barriers and miscommunication.
Experience in a previous role is usually not necessary, and many charities are so desperate for “on-the-ground” assistance that they are forced to employ sub-qualified people to fulfil essential job roles. This can work to the advantage of an unskilled candidate looking to gain a wealth of experience on their “year out.”
Past experience either in a charity organisation role, or within the disciplines of advertising, sales, marketing or business management increase the likelihood of the role being remunerated, and accelerate promotion prospects for candidates looking to remain with the overseas charity for a number of years.
Candidates who join large, established charities have a good opportunity for promotion, or at least multi-skilling. Charities such as Oxfam employ hundreds of people across a range of different departments, so entry-level workers may decide to move into accounts, payroll, administration, support or any other department. For candidates who are unskilled or lack experience, the role of overseas advertising manager is something that would need to be worked towards in a larger organisation, rather than being a platform for future growth. Competition for places is tighter for these more well-known charities.
Wellcome Trust is the largest charity in the UK, and second largest medical research charity in the world. Other big names include Oxfam, Barnardos, British Red Cross, Help the Aged and Cancer Research. Candidates are reminded that some of the best, most challenging or most unusual overseas placement opportunities exist with less well known charities, so internet research is the first crucial step.
Also known as…
- Charity funds manager
- Charity marketing manager
- Charity assistance manager
- Charity supervisor
What’s it really like?
Nina Friar is an overseas charity advertising manger with many years experience. She is currently working with an aid organisation in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
What made you decide or choose to get into this sort of career?
In high school, I was fascinated by economics and development, and in university I grew frustrated studying only theory. Working on something in the abstract and being in the field is as different as reading about mountains and holding a rock. I didn’t want to just ‘talk the talk,’ I wanted to ‘walk the walk.’ This isn’t a discipline where there is only one answer; there is an infinite spectrum of grey, and I was at a point in my life where I wanted a challenge. I had a handful of years working in marketing and communications departments, and I realised that organisations have a difficult time relaying what they do in-the-field. The next step was just getting on a plane.
Do you have a standard day or a standard type of ‘exercise’?
There are a few things that I do to give my life some normality. I always check my email, and I try to cook food from ‘home’ sometimes. It is important to stay connected, and to follow news and trends, but, mostly, I try to enjoy my surroundings. Working abroad, especially on short-term contracts, guarantees that no day will be ‘standard.’
What is the most common type of problem/call-out/enquiry to which you must attend?
My role is to translate what happens on-the-ground for donors and supporters. It’s a lot of writing and editing. More often than not, I work to put our projects into a context that donors can understand. There is a big cultural divide. I’m sort of the intermediary, and it’s hard to predict what problems might arise.
What do you like most about the job?
The mission of my organisation is to ‘break cycles of poverty.’ Even on my worst days, I know that I’ve contributed to our end-goal, and on my best days, I get to see the end result.
What do you like least about the job?
Working abroad can be isolating. At home, I have a support network, and I know that to get to point C, I need to do A and B. Over here, what seems simple can be unduly complicated. Language barriers (or even cultural barriers) are breeding grounds for miscommunication. Getting to point C is usually an exercise in trial and error. The key is to stay positive.
What are the key responsibilities?
My responsibilities are indeterminate and ‘as assigned.’ Mostly, I keep lines of communication open. I update our websites, develop materials and support fundraising staff to write grant submissions. Working for not-for-profit, there is never a dull moment. If you’re someone with initiative, there is always a project that needs an extra pair of hands.
What about academic requirements? Any formal demands, eg- A Levels?
I don’t think that there are a lot of formal ‘academic requirements’, but experience helps. It takes a lot of self-discipline and hard work to succeed abroad. The more that you have to offer in terms of general skills and experience, the better.
What is the starting salary and how does this increase over time with promotion?
Salaries vary widely. Local salaries are low, as it doesn’t take much to live comfortably. Some staff volunteer for 4 or 6 months, but those staying long-term should expect to have their living expenses covered at the very least. If you are hired in your home-country, salaries might be generous, but this isn’t a job that you do for the money.
What advice do you have for someone who is looking to get into this as a career?
Sharpen your skills and take the plunge! If you aren’t in it for the money, you’ll find a way to eke out a living, somehow. Take 1 or 2 classes in grant writing, for example; there’s always a way. Really, the hardest part is just getting on the plane in the first instance.
What are the most important qualities an applicant must and should possess?
I think that it is important to be flexible and hard working. You have to have a lot of initiative, and a good sense of humour to survive abroad.