I Want to Work for a Charity


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 – the range of job roles in charities is vast, from accountancy to zookeeping.

Many of these overlap with job roles in the commercial sector, such as marketing, finance, public relations, events management, retail management, IT services and human resource management.

Getting in

Charity-specific job roles

These include Charity fundraiser, Charity Officer and Volunteer Coordinator.

Charity Administrators/Officer

Work involves administration; report/proposal writing, budgeting, project appraisal and evaluation. Related jobs include social work, public sector administration, charity fundraising. Some satisfactions of the work are working for something that you believe in, variety, and responsibility. Negatives can include lack of a 'professional' career development structure in the smaller charities, bureaucracy, pressure and low pay. Skills required include written communication, organisingflexibilitylistening and cooperating. Any degree subject is acceptable but a business-related degree may help. A Masters degree in a development subject would be useful for overseas aid charities.

Charity Officer job description www.prospects.ac.uk/charity_officer_job_description.htm   (Charity officers may also be called charity administrators, community liaison officers or project development officers.

"To successfully secure corporate donations fundraisers need to know their audience and communicate with them in a way that appeals to their wants and needs.

With this in mind, it’s vital that fundraisers have a commercial awareness of the pressures faced by and aims of any companies being targeted for support."

Charity Fundraiser

This is a typical starting job for graduates in the charity sector. It involves raising money: planning & coordinating fundraising activities, from flag weeks to sporting events; liaising with potential donors (corporate or individuals) through talks, bulletins or one-to-one contacts.
Related jobs include public relations, charity administration, sales and marketing.
Satisfactions include working for something that you believe in, variety and responsibility. Negatives include lack of a 'professional' career development structure.
Skills needed include written and spoken communication, persuading, negotiatingorganisingand determination. Any degree subject is acceptable. 

Charity fundraiser job description www.prospects.ac.uk/charity_fundraiser_job_description.htm

Volunteer Coordinator job description http://www.prospects.ac.uk/volunteer_coordinator_job_description.htm

Charity Comms: career profiles www.charitycomms.org.uk/career-profiles  and job descriptions www.charitycomms.org.uk/job-descriptions for communications, marketing and PR jobs in the charity sector

Institute of Fundraising www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk/jobs-and-careers/ “job shop” and careers advice for the fundraising sector

Since charities can rarely devote their resources to training, it can be difficult for new graduates to break into this sector: those who succeed are likely to have gained experience through volunteering  and/or to have useful business, fundraising, computing, social media or similar skills to offer.

General information

Job and Volunteering Opportunities

Graduate Recruitment Schemes

“Passion for a cause is vital but not enough. People need to offer the right mix of skills and experience. They’ll be expected to work as hard and to meet as many targets and deadlines as in any commercial company”
Chief executive of small development charity, quoted in The Independent.

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.

Charities offering Volunteer Internships

Direct fundraising


The above organisations recruit students and graduates for face-to-face fundraising work, either door-to-door or in high streets and shopping centres. They are used by a number of charities to find new supporters who will commit to making a regular donation. For more about this fundraising method, see www.pfra.org.uk/face-to-face_fundraising

"Knowledge of quantitative data collection; statistical analysis; financial modelling and analysis & reporting of quantitative data, a good business and commercial awareness plus previous experience of working in a charity or social enterprise (paid or voluntary), is desirable."

Advert for charity marketing post

Specialist Charity Recruitment Agencies

University of Kent MA in Philanthropic Studies

The University of Kent offers the UK’s only Masters course in Philanthropic Studies. This is 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. 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. www.kent.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/769 For information, contact Dr Triona Fitton T.Fitton@kent.ac.uk

Undergraduate modules at the University of Kent on the voluntary sector. 

For more information on these three modules contact Dr Eddy Hogg E.Hogg@kent.ac.uk

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Last fully updated 2015