Is being a philanthropy consultant a good career?

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2022 marked the first year that the number of Chinese university graduates exceeded 10 million, overseas Chinese graduates and unemployed graduates from previous years not included. Coupled with a slowing economy, this has led to a challenging employment situation for young people. 


However, on the bright side, China’s philanthropy sector is growing and developing, presenting boundless opportunities for young people with open minds. Becoming a philanthropy consultant is a career path worth exploring.


Although not yet common in China, philanthropy consultancy is well established in developed countries such as the US and the UK – and the job prospects can be promising.


What does a philanthropy consultant do?


The work of a philanthropy consultant can be summed up as providing personalized advice and assigning plans to individuals or businesses to maximize the effectiveness of their philanthropic giving and help them achieve their charitable goals.


Unlike other philanthropy-related jobs, a philanthropy consultant is more like a walking guide. When an individual or business desires to go beyond random, ad hoc projects and give more meaning to their charitable acts, it can often become overwhelming and confusing. Philanthropy consultants are the troubleshooters of the philanthropy sector, using their talents and skills to solve all charity-related problems for their clients.


Is it difficult to become a philanthropy consultant?


Due to the nature of their work, philanthropy advisers are required to have a deep knowledge of several different sectors and, in particular, a strong understanding of the philanthropy sector in order to provide expertise. 


For example, if the client is interested in donor-advised funds (DAFs), then the adviser will need to provide the client with detailed information about DAFs, including the tax regime and tax deductibility of DAFs in the client’s region and country, what types of donations qualify for tax deductibility, and whether the final flow of funds is in line with the client’s wishes. In this example, the consultant has to understand not only the mechanics of DAFs but also the tax laws and regulations, which makes them a generalist across the three areas of charity, finance and law.


In addition, working as a philanthropy advisor brings oneself into contact with many people, not just clients, but also volunteers in pro bono projects and members of charitable organizations. Philanthropy advisors do not limit their services to the clients, but rather seek out potential target audiences in their day-to-day work to maximize their impact.


What type of people make good philanthropy consultants?


A philanthropy consultant needs the ability not only to socialize and engage with different people but also solve problems creatively, as clients’ needs vary and should be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. When representing a client, the advisor also needs to be able to present a positive image.


A qualified philanthropy consultant should have significant expertise in the field, a positive persona, the ability to organize and manage finances, communicate effectively and collaborate, relate to people and socialize, and solve problems creatively.


In China, philanthropy is reaching its peak, and philanthropy consultancy as an emerging profession will see a wide range of development prospects. As independent philanthropy consultants provide advice in exchange for pay, young people can be free of the constraints of time and space, which is often in line with their preferred lifestyle.