Working for the Philanthropy with a Human Rights Degree
About this webinar
The second webinar of the series ‘The Road Less Traveled’ focused on human rights graduates working in the philanthropic sector (private foundations, grant-making organizations, corporate foundations, etc). We discussed how human rights knowledge and expertise is used by our three guest speakers in their work for the philanthropy sector. Why are not more graduates considering working for foundations and other organisations from the philanthropic sector? What are the rewards and challenges of working for a foundation? Which role does philanthropy play in advancing human rights?
As long as you can show at the recruitment stage that your knowledge and skills are transferrable, you do not need to be an expert on one specific topic
Senior Program Officer with the Human Rights Program at Wellspring Philanthropic Fund, a private grant making foundation based in New York and Washington D.C. In this
role he manages funding portfolios and partnerships that support increased capacities of ecosystems of civil society organizations advancing human rights norms and social change. He is the author of several peer-reviewed book chapters, journal articles and research on a range of issues particularly socio-economic and children’s human rights from an African perspective.
Alumnus of GC Africa
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Operations Manager at the Right Livelihood Foundation. Her role involves managing recruitment at the Foundation. She brings with her a decade of experience working in the UK charity sector, at Teach First and Oxfam GB.
Find out what is unique and special about yourself.
Managing Director, Virchow Foundation for Global Health. In this role, she oversees the operations of the Foundation’s Secretariat and launch of the Virchow Prize for Global Health.
Alumna of GC Europe
Working for the Philanthropy with a Human Rights Degree
Working for foundations and other organizations in the philanthropic sector?
This has not been an obvious choice for human rights graduates even though there are around 3000 foundations working in human rights. The three guests of the second webinar of the series “The road less traveled” gave insights in the realities of working for foundations, the rewards and challenges of their positions and shared useful tips for job applications.
A convening force
The convening force of philanthropic work was a big motivation for Godfrey Odongo to work for the Wellspring Philanthropic Fund, a private grant making foundation based in New York and Washington D.C., where he is currently Senior Program Officer with the Human Rights Program. His position allows him to be a catalyst and a convening power for all stakeholders across sectors to co-create and work together. He stressed that the human rights degree was important to understand how policies are developed as the change that we seek takes time and requires law, policies and people power. He noted however that the advocacy space had been dominated by lawyers and that we needed different expertise. The big learning curve for him was to tap into other skills, learn from others and lift each other up. The future of human rights work will be better for that.
His piece of advice for job search:
As long as you can show at the recruitment stage that your knowledge and skills are transferrable, you do not need to be an expert on one specific topic. For many jobs, he would recruit generalists with the right set of skills.
No place for bias
“It was a purposeful choice”, said Caroline Brown of her decision to work for a foundation. In her role as Operations Manager at the Right Livelihood Foundation she is responsible for recruitment. To avoid conscious and unconscious biases the foundation changed the recruitment process to an anonymized online form with questions relating to the required competencies for a position. Besides research, communication and analytical skills, Caroline stressed the importance of communication skills as the most important skills for graduates seeking a job in a foundation or in any organisation.
Her piece of advice for job search:
Reach out: if you are interested in a specific role, go to LinkedIn, find people in that role, and reach out to them for a virtual coffee.
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Human rights studies as a steppingstone
Victoria Grandsoult’s path started in community health at a pediatric hospital and led her to transition to global health after graduating from the European Master in Human Rights. She did plan on working for intergovernmental organisations, but kept an open mind and found a job at a network of parliamentarians to end infectious diseases and was then contacted through this network by one of founders of the Virchow Foundation for Global Health, where she is now the managing director. “The degree from the Global Campus of Human Rights gave me the global exposure I needed to human rights”, said Victoria. “I learned from other people, not only from the professors but also from the other students.” The master “was a steppingstone for a lot of opportunities” and a chance to extend her network.
Her pieces of advice for job search:
“Don’t be too fixed on one role. Think instead about what you want to advocate for. Different positions can teach you a lot and lead you somewhere you haven’t even thought of.”
To make your applications more specific, “find out what is unique and special about yourself”
“Don’t only sit and send applications. Be active!” By being active, she meant to volunteer, write a blog, network, etc.
Summary: Milena Österreicher | LinkedIn