Charity Chats Border centred

Monthly career interview with professionals in the not-for-profit sector


My Charity Career - Andrew Hetherington


1. What is your current role and how long have you been working in it?

I am Chief Executive of Business to Arts, which is a membership-based charity that brokers, enables and supports partnerships between businesses, individuals and the arts. I have been in this role since September 2014 and I am proud to lead the Business to Arts team during our 30th Anniversary in 2018.

2. How did you get to where you are today and what influenced your decision to work in your chosen field?

I joined Business to Arts (as Project Director) in 2007 after I finished my Masters in Cultural Policy and Arts Management at UCD. Before that I worked for eight years in finance / corporate treasury with De Lage Landen, which is a subsidiary of Rabobank. In my spare time, I’ve always been interested in the arts. Originally in the visual arts, art history, design and performance.  Now my eyes have been opened to so much more of the incredible artistic talent that exists in this country.

In recent years, I’ve often thought about how my parents lives and their approach to running their own business has influenced me. When my parents were my age they had five children and were about to set up their own business. As we grew up, my four siblings and I were all involved in working in the family business. We all have different interests, educational achievements and abilities. However, when work needed to be done it was all hands on deck. This helped make sure things were done on time and to the best possible finish.  My Dad had the best eye for design, attention to detail and management. My Mum did most of the paperwork and kept all of us on course.

I think my parents approach to work and running a business has influenced how I work. My decision to be Chief Executive of Business to Arts has been influenced by all of the people I have encountered on my career journey so far.

3. What do you love/enjoy most about your job?

No two days are the same at Business to Arts. We work with such a wide variety of organisations and people from the corporate and cultural sectors, which is probably the best part of my job. I love when my mind is opened further by new ideas and ways of thinking. I love seeing my colleagues take pride in their work and doing amazing things with our members. I particularly love seeing emerging creative people get funding on, our crowdfunding website. Two recent highlights are the recent albums made by Shane Hennessy and Maire Carroll.

4. And what are the most challenging parts of your job?

Managing expectations! While Business to Arts has a large stakeholder base and well-established national programmes of activity, most people are surprised to find that we are quite a small team of six people. As a registered charity, we have a range of key performance indicators, which help us focus on achieving our impact. In the current climate one of our priorities is sustainable growth. Our impact on the corporate and cultural sectors is highly reliant on the commitment and experience of the Business to Arts team and board. As much as I would love to add many people to the Business to Arts executive, we can only increase our FTE head count and increase our impact when revenue streams are confirmed and long-term relationships are in place.

5. How do you relax?

Holidays with friends and family are always my favourite way to relax. I’ve recently come back from Tromsø in Norway, which is quite far into the Arctic Circle. The trip was part-work and part-holiday. It was so interesting to see the excellent cultural infrastructure in that part of Norway, get a master-class in film finance in Scandinavian countries and experience nature and wildlife in the dark Norwegian winter.

When I’m not on holidays you’ll regularly find me near the sea or close to water at the weekends. I love a walk down the South Bull Wall in Dublin Port and long walks on the amazing beaches, lakes and rivers around Ireland. Oh… and have I mentioned wine yet?

6. What skills and personality traits do you think are essential for a job like yours?

Strategic planning is one of the most important activities of a Chief Executive in the charity and cultural sectors. Having finished the first strategic plan I created and implemented with Business to Arts, I’m now moving onto a new five-year plan. This process allows us to take time to focus on the organisation’s priorities and work toward achieving them together.

7. What’s your advice to anyone who wants to pursue a career in the same field?

Learn as much as you can from the experts that are around you. Whether it is finance and budgeting, sales, marketing, writing or communications, there are people that are really good at their jobs all around you. Watch what they do and how they do it. Try to be (or at least aspire to be) as good as them. Ask them for their advice and their support. The worst thing they can say is no.

8. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Well I wish I listened more to my Dad while he was alive. He died almost twenty years ago. I do remember him saying two things regularly… ‘work hard’ and that ‘if I was happy he was happy’. I try to stick to this philosophy as best as I can and apply it to the people that are in my life.

9. What has been the best moment of your career so far?

In the last couple of years I’ve been really proud to be a part of the team behind Women on Walls. Working with our friends at Accenture and the Royal Irish Academy we have commissioned twelve portraits of Irish women who are pioneers in the fields of arts and sciences. These portraits are currently in residence at the United Nations in New York and I’ll be joining them there for a special event in March 2018 for International Women’s Day. We’ll also soon be announcing the next historic phase of Women on Walls.

10. What are your career aspirations?

In the future I am keen to see greater philanthropic funding for the arts in Ireland (from individuals and companies) and a dedicated arts foundation in Ireland. With my team in Business to Arts, we are in the early stages of setting this type of structure up. We have an Arts Fund for Ireland and Docklands Arts Fund operating. In 2017, we saw over €300,000 committed to bursaries for artists, artist residencies and art commissions. While most of the funding is donor-advised funding, we have open call or limited call processes in places for much of the funds given on an annual basis. I’d love to see more of this happen.

If you’re a professional who works in the not-for-profit sector and you’re interested in taking part in the ‘My Charity Career’ interview series, please get in touch by emailing Laura at  We’d love to hear from you!

Common Interview Questions

While interview formats and interviewer’s styles can vary greatly, there are a few questions that always seem to come up at interview  – no matter the position or organisation. It’s important to be prepared to respond effectively to these common questions. While we don’t recommend memorising your answers off beforehand, it’s essential to think about and practice what you’re going to say so you’re not caught out during the job interview.

Preparation is half the battle when it comes to job interviews and we’ve come up with the following points to help you get started:

  • What do you know about our organisation? 

This one comes up 90% of the time and this is your opportunity to mention aspects of the company and position that appeal to you. You won’t be expected to be an expert but be sure you have done your homework: visit their website, read their annual report and strategy if they’re available, and check out their social media channels. You could also set up a Google alert so you’re notified when they’re in the news and you can speak about up-to-date developments.

  • Why do you want to work for us? 

Tailor your answer so that you show you can contribute in positive ways, to provide a solution for what the charity needs.

  • Tell me about yourself…

This is not a time for a personal history. Remember to point out those characteristics, qualities and experiences that suit the position.

  • What motivates you? What are your personal goals? 

Indicate a desire to contribute to the charity in specific ways that you enjoy and do well, trying to make a match between the needs of the organisation and your abilities.

  • Why are you leaving your job? 

Be sure you have a level-headed answer for this one. Do not bad mouth your previous position or boss! Indicate positive reasons for seeking advancement – a change or a new challenge.

  • What qualities and experience do you have that are important for this position? 

The interviewer has your CV, but he or she wants to hear how you can express your success. This is also a time when the interviewer may test your communication skills. Try your best to use specific examples which align with the responsibilities outlined in the jobs description.

  • What has been your greatest accomplishment? 

Remember to make sure your answers are outcome oriented focusing on the organisation and its clients rather than your ego.


Stick to this guide and you’ll definitely come across as a stronger candidate in interviews.

We also suggest you refer to the job description and person specification and prepare good, detailed examples under each required skill set. Remember to be confident and articulate!

Finally, everyone at Charity Careers Ireland wishes you the best of luck!


Leave the hiring manager impressed, not distressed.

In a growingly technologically advanced society – CVs are not always filtered by the eyes of employers. There are machines that draw out key words out of applications – signifying a match or not. Why not better your chances of being selected by strengthening your application and including specific key words?

Remember to use the past tense if the position is not current and to pack your CV with capturing action words.  Below are great words to include on your CV and cover letter or to incorporate in conversations when interacting with prospective employers.

Accelerated Customized Inspired Raised
Accomplished Critiqued Instructed Reached
Achieved Created Integrated Reinforced
Acquired Debated Interacted Reconciled
Adapted Decided Interpreted Recommended
Administered Decreased Introduced Recorded
Advanced Defined Invented Recruited
Advertised Delegated Involved Redesigned
Advised Delivered Joined Reduced
Advocated Demonstrated Judged Referred
Aligned Designated Justified Refined
Allocated Designed Launched Refocused
Amplified Detected Learned Registered
Analyzed Determined Lifted Regulated
Anticipated Developed Listened Reorganized
Applied Devised Led Replaced
Appointed Directed Lobbied Reported
Appraised Discovered Logged Represented
Approved Distributed Maintained Researched
Arbitrated Drafted Managed Resolved
Arranged Earned Marketed Restored
Articulated Edited Mastered Restructured
Assessed Eliminated Maximized Revamped
Assisted Emphasized Mediated Reviewed
Assigned Enabled Mentored Revitalized
Attained Encouraged Merged Revised
Audited Endorsed Met Scheduled
Authorized Enforced Moderated Screened
Awarded Enhanced Modified Secured
Balanced Established Monitored Selected
Bargained Evaluated Motivated Served
Boosted Examined Negotiated Showcased
Budgeted Exceeded Observed Simplified
Built Excelled Obtained Sold
Campaigned Executed Offered Solicited
Capitalized Expanded Operated Solved
Calculated Expedited Ordered Specialized
Cancelled Expressed Organized Standardized
Chaired Facilitated Originated Stimulated
Clarified Filed Ordered Strategized
Classified Financed Outlined Strengthened
Coached Focused Outpaced Studied
Collaborated Forecasted Outperformed Succeeded
Collected Formulated Oversaw Submitted
Communicated Founded Participated Summarized
Competed Fundraised Partnered Supervised
Completed Furthered Performed Supplied
Composed Flagged Persuaded Surpassed
Condensed Gained Planned Surveyed
Conducted Generated Prepared Sustained
Consolidated Governed Presented Systemized
Constructed Guided Prioritized Taught
Consulted Handled Processed Terminated
Contacted Headed Produced Tested
Contracted Helped Programmed Trained
Contributed Hired Projected Tracked
Controlled Hosted Promoted Transformed
Conceptualized Identified Proposed Translated
Conserved Implemented Protected Tutored
Convinced Improved Proved Updated
Conveyed Improvised Provided Upgraded
Cooperated Incorporated Publicized Utilized
Coordinated Increased Purchased Validated
Corrected Influenced Pursued Verified
Corresponded Initiated Qualified Won
Cultivated Inspected Quantified Wrote


Working for a charity in ireland

Charities belong in what is often referred to as ‘The-Not-For-Profit or Community & Voluntary Sector’, making them distinct from public (government) and private, commercial organisations. There is often confusion about what constitutes a charity, what they do and how they operate – much of the language used is interchangeable and invariably there is crossover between ‘charities’ and some other words that are also often used which can refer to an individual organisation or the sector:

  • Non-profit
  • Not-for-profit
  • Non-governmental
  • Community & Voluntary
  • Third Sector
  • Civil Society

There are over 7,000 registered[1] charities in Ireland alongside an estimated 25,000 additional community and voluntary groups employing over 100,000 people and generating an annual turnover of approximately €6 billion.

Ireland’s charity sector has been operating without a regulator, and there is, as of yet, no statutory definition of what a charity is. However, the enactment of the Charities Act 2009 is underway and a new authority will supervise and regulate the activities of the organisations that work in the sector. Úna Ní Dhubhgaill has been appointed as the interim Chief Executive of the new Charity Regulatory Authority, and 16 board members have also been appointed. All charities will be obligated to register with this regulatory authority, giving us a clearer picture of the sector in Ireland. The new regulator is expected to be operational by the end of 2014.

While there is a huge variety of organisation types, missions and goals, and despite the lack of regulator, the sector is tied together by these common elements:

Charities must have an explicit charitable mission as outlined in their written constitution or governing documents. They cannot be set up to make a profit.

The roles and careers available within a charity are as diverse as the sector itself. There are those involved directly in service provision and these roles include carers, social workers, therapists, project managers, advocacy officers, nurses, doctors and trainers among many others.  Like any other organisation, charities also need people to keep them running and so employ people in finance, HR, administration, legal, marketing, fundraising and management.

Some Useful Links

[1] Registered with the Revenue Commission for tax exemption.

Charity Careers Ireland