If your passion is to help whole communities or raise the profile of hard-working not-for-profits, a career in community support and outreach could be the right career path for you.
Are you a big picture thinker — the kind of person who understands the impact that not-for-profits and government organizations can have on those in need when the community comes together? Perhaps you’re a meticulous planner who enjoys organizing fundraisers, developing community service programs, or managing teams of volunteers?
If this sounds like you, a career in community outreach may be a perfect fit. In this varied and hugely rewarding profession, you’ll engage and educate the community about the work of organizations that do good. Here’s what you need to know about a career in community outreach.
The Role of Community Social Workers
Community social workers are active at a local level on everything from volunteer training and education to developing and implementing community events, creating strategies to retain donors, and developing media campaigns. There are opportunities to work directly with members of the public, oversee programs, and manage staff and liaise with other community organizations with similar goals.
In contrast to the usual social worker environment, many community outreach social workers will spend a fair amount of time in the office, developing strategies, planning events, and liaising with community stakeholders.
That said, this hard-working group are just as likely to be out in the community delivering programs and working with volunteers, and many live in the communities they serve. If you’re unsure which work environment is the best fit, many employers offer internships that allow you to gain valuable field work experience and insights.
Example of Community Outreach in Action
The American Cancer Society employs a team of community outreach workers. The ACS looks for people who like working with and coaching others, developing and planning fundraising events, and having a variety of day-to-day activities and responsibilities. Community roles could involve activities such as leading the planning for a Relay For Life event or working with volunteers to plan a Make Strides Against Breast Cancer walk.
Of its community outreach team, the American Cancer Society says: “Team members in this area usually have donation and sponsorship goals for a portfolio of events, and work with both American Cancer Society staff and volunteers in their community to achieve these goals. They touch nearly every part of our mission and serve as the face of the Society in their community.”
“Our most successful community engagement professionals are usually organized, outgoing and positive, and they possess the ability to coach and motivate others.”
Salaries and Qualifications
Employment is expected to grow by 10 percent between 2014 and 2024 – faster than the average across all occupations – as demand for community outreach workers grows, largely due to our aging population.
A social work degree is the minimum requirement for work in this field but, as with all sectors of this industry, many employers prefer candidates with a Master’s degree.
To find out more about a Master’s in Social Work (MSW) degree and the benefits it could bring to your career, visit our Find an MSW Program page and find the right fit for you.