Making the change: how to move from corporate to social impact

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Are you caught in a repetitive but lucrative nine to five job, with constant board meetings turned zoom calls, and yearning for more depth in your professional life?

There are scores of career opportunities in the social impact sector for the rising generation of changemakers to apply their skills to. So, why do people make that move from the corporate sector to the social sector?

Stanford Social Innovation Review revealed that, “unlike anything we’ve seen in modern times”, Millennials want “their contributions… to achieve actual results for a cause” and have “the potential and desire to create a new model for social change”, transforming the world for the better.

This trend was accelerated in 2020 with the world-shattering global pandemic and exposure of further racial inequalities which, in turn, highlighted the power of community action, more money flowed into Sustainable Investment funds than ever before, and now, in an effort not to resort to pre-pandemic life, many are concentrating on social responsibility and impact (see Sarah Gordon’s opening address at the recent Impact Investment Institute’s first anniversary event).

The message from social and impact investor leaders is that impact entrepreneurs will rebuild the economy post-pandemic and purpose-driven businesses are the future.

For many potential changemakers, engaging with community groups and grassroots movements is compelling but, they don’t know how and where to start. It is never too late for mid-career professionals either. Armed with 20 years’ experience and a passion for social impact, they are suited to social sector leadership positions – they can take their corporate learnings to the social sector, leveraging their skills from their first career to pursue a more meaningful path.

                                                   Social Impact Career guide

                                                                       Step 1: About You

What are your strengths and skills?

  • Consider what you are good at
  • What skills do you want to use in your next role?
  • How can you leverage that know-how to contribute to social change?

What did/do you enjoy about your previous/current role?

 The TeamWorking Hours
FlexibilityLevel of Seniority
Benefits & Perks regarding healthcare and pensionThe senior leadership team
Workload Opportunity for promotion

Why do you want to move on?

Poor relationships with the team/managersPersonal values not aligned with the organisation
No sustainable company vision or benefit to local communitiesNo career progression
Lack of flexibility for family lifeCompany closing down

Your purpose

  • Reflect on your values, aspirations and motivations. Look at the Sustainable Development Goals for inspiration.
  • Think about previous volunteering experience, humanitarian work and philanthropic projects—how and why did you get involved?

                                                  Step 2: About Your Dream Organisation

What type of work environment?

  • Start-up or established organisation, working with internal or external stakeholders, fast-moving or slower-paced, working with a big or close-knit team etc.

Do extensive research on your area of interest.

  • Understand the landscape in terms of the influencers, NGO players, government policy, foundations, trusts and funders in that space. This will help you identify the exact niche you wish to concentrate your efforts on.

Find an organization which aligns with your purpose/ social mission

  • A social enterprise, impact/social investment firm, foundation, trust or charity and do they play a part in climate action, community-based projects, empowering protected groups, international development, ethical products and supply chain etc.

                                                                  Step 3: Next Move

Build your network

  • Meet with people in the industry—a networking coffee (even virtually!)
  • Ask for mentoring from key players.
  • On Purpose provides training sessions to transform your career and clarify your purpose.
  • If you want a career break to enrol in an Impact Mentoring Programme, or want to start up your own social enterprise, talk to Social Starters.

Expand your knowledge of the industry

  • Follow the organisations that appeal to you and those that are seen as leaders on different social media platforms, and analyse their blogs.
  • Check out our Twitter & LinkedIn channels too, plus our blog & market insights.
  • Read the relevant job descriptions and understand the qualities & skillsets they are asking for.

Go to conferences and events

  • Many are on Zoom at the moment and easily accessible. Find these events on Twitter and through joining LinkedIn Groups.

                                                         Step 4: Documenting Progress

  • Produce an excel document with lists of your network, influencers in the sector to watch out for and applications submitted. Keep updating it and growing your reach.
  • Think about your cover letter and elevator pitch—a snapshot of your skills and writing down why you want to move to social impact will crystallise your objectives.


A career transition can be emotionally draining and a complete identity adjustment. It might be frightening but it will be an enriching experience. We are here to help!

Contact us on TwitterLinkedIn or at .

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Date: 2 December 2020 | Posted In: Helpful Guides | Posted by: Careers4change

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