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Want to work in philanthropy?

Working in the philanthropy 'sector' is very rewarding. Every day, I get to live by my values, and work with others who want to live according to their values. I'm invited into the private worlds of people's hearts, which is such a privilege. 

I get paid to meet great social change leaders, watch emerging social innovations, admire the growing social enterprise movement and be inspired everyday by the evolution in this sector, especially the movement around social benefit business as a legal structure. In the last few months, I have helped a client get a women's collective impact group going, and helping a 75-year-old woman set up her legacy gifts. 

I didn't know what to call myself, having such a diverse toolkit (media, marketing, business development, fundraising, management, philanthropy etc), so I figured a Social Impact Consultant summed it up. I work with private philanthropists, businesses, philanthropic foundations, community foundations, for-purpose organisations (I try not to use NFP), social innovators and more. If it's purpose-driven mission and I have a shared value base with the prospective client, then away we go!  

But how did I create a bridge into this work? Having started life as a journalist and working in media & marketing for 10 years, and 3 years travelling world on superyachts with uber-rich (another story), I was very much looking for a bridge. A Masters in Philanthropy presented that opportunity for me. It was either a program at Indiana University in USA, or come back to Australia. I'm glad I did the latter!  

So it was about 9 years ago now that I turned up on Day One for a Masters in Business (Philanthropy and Social Investment) at Swinburne University under the then leader Michael Liffman. I had done my undergraduate degrees via distance education, so was very daunted on the first day to be in circle of 20 other grown-ups!

 I remember being the only one in the room that had come from another sector, and had just returned home from "summers in Alaska and winters in Caribbean" Heads did turn! Who was this strange girl in the room without an NFP background? (Making an exception here to use NFP!) But that was just my internal chatter, and it turned out to be a very inclusive room and some of my greatest industry mates today were forged over those years. People who I regard as life-long industry mates. Special heh.  

You may be considering something like this for yourself. Taking a leap into a new sector. Looking for the bridge. I can highly recommend education as the pathway, and an amazing way to get to know all the fabulous people in this sector. Come join us! 

Philanthropy Australia's website has a good rundown of the courses currently on offer in Australia. Sing out if you have any questions. Happy bridge hunting.

The Xfactor Collective is a community of pre-vetted specialist consultants who help social change makers achieve their social mission. We have a diverse range of specialists across 300+ areas of specialisation, and this article was written by our Specialist Consultant Julia Keady. To find out more about working with Julia, or how the Collective can help you, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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