Working for Charities & NGOs in Singapore: Openings, Skill Sets & Salaries

working for charity and ngo singapore

Ever found yourself wondering just how your dead-end office job is making the world a better place? Chances are, the only thing you’re doing is making some corporation richer—a corporation that would not hesitate to eject you the minute you cease to be useful to them.

Like many idealists reading this, you might even have toyed with the idea of working for a non-profit organisation or charity to “save the world”. But will that immediately solve all your existential problems?


What’s the difference between working for a regular corporation and a non-profit organisation?

As much as everyone loves hating on their corporate jobs, the well-paying ones have their perks. We all have friends who get bonuses that are fatter than a sumo wrestler and probably wouldn’t bother to bend down to pick up a $10 note they dropped in the gutter.

Unless you roll like T.T. Durai, it’s unlikely you’ll get rich working for a non-profit organisation. In addition, non-profit jobs are seldom cushy due to a lack of funding and the need to ensure that everyone who’s getting paid is not a drain on resources. So, you can forget about getting paid to spend 75% of your time surfing Facebook.

If the thought has crossed your mind to work for a charity or non-profit organisation, though, you’re likely not completely motivated by money. You’re someone who wants to see change in society, and have a soft spot for the needy. Instead of climbing that ladder to move out of each job to another that pays better, you could spend long years working in a poorly paid position, albeit for a meaningful cause.

That being said, working for a charity doesn’t mean you’re not necessarily doomed to be poor for life. Some of the biggest organisations or those affiliated with global organisations like the UN can pay competitive salaries. But it usually takes time and sometimes multiple master’s degrees to get to play with the big boys.

That’s not to say that corporate jobs don’t require hard work on a modest salary, too. Heck, there are many corporate jobs that are just one rung above slavery.


Top openings in NGOs in Singapore

Here are some examples of non-profit job openings available in Singapore right now.

Job Role Company Years of experience
Assistant Manager / Manager, International Programmes Mercy Relief 3 to 5
Deputy National Director Habitat for Humanity 5
Assistant Manager / Manager United Nations Global Compact Network Singapore 4
Associate Luminate 5 to 7
Executive Director Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics 10

Like any corporate company, there are different roles required and hence a wide range of salaries in non-profit sectors. An operations executive at a religious foundation can earn between $1,600 and $2,300, a palliative nurse earns around $3,500 to $4,000 and an ICT Manager in an NGO organisation can earn within the range of $5,000 to $7,000. It all depends on the specialisation of your skill sets, the organisation you work for and the years of experience under your belt.


What skill sets do you require to work in a non-profit or charity?

Just because you studied finance at university rather than social work doesn’t mean you’re doomed to be a mercenary Wolf of Wall Street forever.

Like regular companies, non-profits are organisations. And organisations need many of the same types of support as regular companies—accountants, legal counsels, project managers, marketers, IT professionals, HR professionals and so on.

This also means that many of the skills you picked up while working for corporates are transferrable to a non-profit context. Yes, your management, coaching, and leads generation skills can be put towards something a little less soul-sucking than financing your boss’s next Porsche.

Non-profits also need specialists, usually but not always in a technical or scientific field, who are able to get into the meat of their subject matter. For instance, the National Kidney Foundation needs medical researchers and practitioners, while the Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES) needs vets. So try searching for the kinds of non-profits that are most relevant to your field of knowledge at job recruitment sites like JobStreet and JobsCentral.

Once you have had one non-profit job, it is easier to get another, as non-profits often (but not always) look to hire people with prior non-profit experience. To get your foot in the door, a track record of volunteering in a similar organisation also helps.

Have you ever worked for a non-profit organisation? Share your tips in the comments!


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