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October 27, 2014

Charity Apprentice

Looking for a way into the sector but don’t know where to start? New course 'Charity Apprentice' may offer a great way to gain experience.

This week we met with Thomas Muirhead, Director at the charity KOP (Kenyan Orphan Project) who has recently set up Charity Apprentice to run hand in hand with KOP. Charity Apprentice is a course aimed to offer anyone interested in working in the charity sector with a simple way to gain prior knowledge and understanding of how charities work. We asked Thomas what prompted him to set up the course and what benefits it might offer potential students.

Thomas, can you tell us why you decided to set Charity Apprentice up?
Charity Apprentice came out of a real need. There is no simple way for people keen to learn about charity to get a real understanding of the sector. Many of the students who took part in our Student Programme with KOP were deeply affected by their work, but found that the volunteering aspect of the Programme didn’t furnish them with the practical skills that they needed to work in the sector. 

Also, crucially, we know that many people want to support a charity, and some do so incredibly well. However, we felt that on the whole, they could do so much more efficiently if they were provided with ongoing, structured support. The digital age lets you do that more easily than before. We want to empower anyone wanting to do ‘something good’ to have a framework to do that effectively.

So, what is Charity Apprentice?
Charity Apprentice is the first course dedicated to preparing people to do charity work effectively. It is a part time, year long course, providing a mixture of practical challenges and online learning. A series of modules and tasks cover the charity sector, fundraising, marketing, social enterprise and service delivery in the field, including a month in East Africa. 

Can you give an example of the sort of practical tasks students will complete and tell us more about what the students will be doing when in East Africa?
One of the practical challenges that apprentices will have to do is to run a small social enterprise. This may sound like a huge task, but it’s not. It’s about how you approach things. A cake sale can be a social enterprise if it is run like one. So we’ll teach business planning then ask apprentices to run something like a cake sale, but capturing costs, income etc so thereby learning the principles of social enterprise. They’ll also apply marketing and comms techniques to promote their sale and that sort of thing.

You can see some of the example tasks on the What You’ll Learn section of the site 

Who is the course aimed at?
The course is for anyone interested in the changing the world. Whether you are hoping to get the necessary experience to work in the charity sector; want to find a way to fill your spare time that is rewarding, challenging and fun; or feel that we should support some of the world’s most vulnerable children, but want to do so effectively and responsibly, then this course is for you. 

Can you tell us more about KOP and how Charity Apprentice fits in with it?
The Kenyan Orphan Project is an organisation dedicated to two things: changing the situation for vulnerable children in the developing world and empowering people in the developed world to be socially active. These two elements naturally intertwine and support each other.

We were set up by three doctors in 2001 who saw the challenges in Kenya first hand and came back dedicated to doing what they could to change things. The most effective way to do so was to provide a way of engaging many more people in the same cause by running a Student Programme. 

KOP has supported over 15 different projects on the ground in Kenya – all through local partners. Each project is focused on supporting orphaned and vulnerable children.  They include a huge pilot programme HealthStart (made possible by Festival Republic) delivering a holistic programme through primary schools. It provides food, water, malaria nets, deworming tablets, health education and more to 2000 children with exciting results so far.

Charity Apprentice is how we engage young people with the work that we do, but also with being socially active generally. Charity Apprentice basically uses KOP as a learning tool. As an apprentice you learn how to do charity work by doing it for KOP.

How do people get involved and register their interest?
People can now sign up directly on . If they have any questions or queries they can contact us at

How much study time will be required?
This will depend on the individual Apprentice. We estimate a minimum of 4-6 hours a week, but depending on how much you want to get out of the course there will be the option to learn more, do more and achieve more. It is built to be flexible, so you can manage your time and do the tasks when they fit with your schedule.

How will it help me to get a job in the future?
Having interviewed literally hundreds of people trying to move in to the charity sector the hardest thing about it is judging people who haven’t got relevant experience. If people had actually run a fundraising campaign, or could run through the steps of how to run a social enterprise, or could show that they’d worked on a successful corporate sponsorship pitch - they’d stand out a mile. And these are some of the practical challenges we’ll be walking apprentices through. You will stand out a mile from other candidates and you’ll know much more about what you actually want to do within the charity sector.

How much does the course cost and when does it start?
The course costs £700-800. That covers all the course content, as well as the accommodation, food and transport costs of your stay in Kenya or Tanzania (not your flights).  It starts in December 2014 and the trip to Africa is in July/August 2015. 

Find us on Twitter @ChApprentice or Facebook for more news and information.

Thomas Muirhead has been Managing Director at KOP for six months and has over ten years experience in the charity sector, working at amongst others Macmillan Cancer Support, Breast Cancer Care and Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research before joining KOP. He’s also run several businesses including a digital agency, live music projects, and remain a director in a couple of exciting startups. He is determined to affect as much change as possible. He is committed to achieving KOP’s ambitious goals and results and excited about the prospect of the introduction of Charity Apprentice.

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