There are over 180,000 registered charities in the UK, plus countless small charities with an income below £5,000 per year that aren't required to register. Their fields of activity cover everything from human rights campaigning to animal welfare; from medical research to child care and from sports to religious affairs.
The first thing to think about is what work you would do. Charity job offers a Career Guide that gives information on 29 different careers in the charitable sector.
Many of these overlap with job roles in the commercial sector, such as marketing, finance, public relations, events management, policy and social research, retail management, IT services and human resource management.
Street League, the NUS, MTV Foundation, Institute of Art and Ideas, the National Trust, Museums, Universities, MI5, MI6, and London Zoo all advertise on CharityJob site despite the fact we don't think of them as charities.
The golden door to enter the charity sector is lots of volunteering experience.
- Get experience that sets you apart: find connections with the causes you believe in.
- Demonstrate an interest in the sector, be clear about what the work means to you and answer the person specification point by point when filling out your application form.
- You cannot just say you want to work in a charity, you must say what kind of charity and what causes you are passionate about.
- Starting out consider temporary positions, e.g. in times of crisis or maternity cover: employers can be more generous when shortlisting for these.
- Much of the work is short-term: you often get projects funded for just 6 months.
- It is easy to move from business to the charity sector but can be harder to move from charity to business
- Have evidence of creativity, initiative and innovation:things like the ice bucket challenge and Movember - this is the type of innovation needed in charity work
- Social media skills are important to charities. Charities have a growing social media presence and try to do as much of this work in house as possible to keep costs down.
- Customer and beneficiary focus able to build positive relationships
- Communicating with impact: cold call sales experience is useful
- Public speaking and story telling
- Teamwork is key to success on projects
- Adaptability and Resilience - charities will look for individuals who are willing to adapt to new situations and work with new people
- Results-driven - proof of success can be key to accessing future project funding
- Entrepreneurial skills
- Charity job - How skills developed at University can help you land a charity job
Graduate Recruitment Schemes
Few charities offer any kind of “graduate training scheme” and those that do are highly competitive, attracting at least 100 applications for every one vacancy. The organisations listed below do run graduate recruitment schemes/internships, or have done so in the past, but check the websites for up-to-date information.
- Charity Works: 12 month graduate scheme designed to find and grow the future leaders of non-profit organisations
- Oxfam careers sometimes run a recruitment programme for graduates. Oxfam also offer training to students who work with them on short placements and voluntary internships or on a regular voluntary basis.
- Cancer Research UK offers graduate and internship opportunities in research, finance, HR, policy, fundraising and marketing.
- IntoUniversity Graduate Trainee Education Worker Scheme delivers education programmes to young people living in the UK’s most disadvantaged communities.
- The Worthwhile Graduate Scheme seeks to provide a clear career path from university into the social impact space. Recruit graduates into charities, social enterprises and not-for-profits. Worthwhile works with small, social impactful organisations.
- Progressive Careers listing of a range of graduate schemes in the charitable or not for profit sector.
Charities offering Volunteer Internships
- Barnardo’s is the UK’s largest children’s charity. They offer charity internships in London and across the UK. They are a 12-week voluntary placement
- British Red Cross volunteer UK based internships for 8-10 weeks
- Cancer Research UK 12 week paid internships across the organisational departments, including Fundraising, Communications, Technology, Policy and Business Strategy.
- Macmillan Cancer Support 12 week voluntary internship in different areas, such as marketing, events, volunteering, fundraising and HR
- Marie Curie Cancer Care opportunities in various aspects of this charity including Legal and public relation and policy
- World Land Trust opportunities on environmental projects
Specialist Charity Recruitment Agencies
- Charity People recruit to permanent and temporary positions all over the UK
- ElevatorCafe: Social enterprise, charity and ethical jobs
- Good moves opportunities across all charitable sectors
- Jobs in Charities for the not for profit and charity sectors
- Third Sector lists jobs from 100’s of 3rd sector organisations
- Charity Job: Charity jobs, fundraising jobs, NGO jobs and not for profit jobs
- Harris Hill offers a vast range of third sector job listings.
Find out more
- Prospects Charities and Voluntary Work
- National Council for Voluntary Organisations: Working for a Charity
- Charity Commission: Find a charity
- UK Fundraising: Includes training, blogs and jobs
- Charity Job: YouTube channel
- CharityChoice: List of charities in the UK
University of Kent MA in Philanthropic Studies
If you work in the charity sector or are interested in doing so, this MA offers a high-level understanding of the key areas of theory and practice that a career in the charity sector demands. A distance learning course via a Virtual Learning Environment with study days on the Canterbury Campus. All course work is completed online; you participate in online discussion forums and have access to journal articles and specialist materials.
Undergraduate modules at the University of Kent on the voluntary sector.
- SO670 Kent Student Certificate for Volunteering Platinum Award. This module supports you in undertaking 3 pieces of volunteering in a variety of roles plus 4 lectures on the basics of the voluntary sector and volunteering and you will be assigned a mentor to support you in your volunteering. This can be taken either for credit or for extra credit. There is no charge for taking this module for extra credit.
- SO645 The Third Sector: Charities and Social Enterprises in Modern Societies: This module is perfect for those who want to understand the theory and practice of charities and the charity sector; you will get a broad overview of the charity sector.
- SO686 Social Justice Practice: This module supports students in undertaking 100 hours of volunteering over the academic year. This module provides an opportunity to gain practical experience of the charity sector and combine it with academic study of the sector and of related theoretical concepts such as social capital, social justice, altruism and philanthropy. Lectures also cover topics such as the role, management, financing and governance.
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