Careers in the charity sector

JodieAdvice, Final Year, First Year, Graduates, Postgraduate, Second Year

Wooden blocks on a white background that spell out 'Be the change'

If you’re looking for a career that’s enriching and rewarding, the charity sector might be right up your street. Working in this sector means your days will focus on pushing for positive change and helping to improve the lives of others. Keep on reading to discover the career options within this sector.

Fields you could specialise in

There are almost 170,000 charities in the UK alone, so there are lots of options out there if this is a sector you’re passionate about working within. Charities tend to specialise in certain areas or on particular issues, so your first step should be to narrow down the types of charities you’d like to work for. You can do this by identifying a cause that’s important to you. Here are just a few to get you started:

  • Combatting hunger or homelessness
  • Protecting people’s human rights
  • Supporting marginalised communities
  • Defending the planet
  • Advocating for animals
  • Supporting the arts
  • Funding medical research into illnesses
  • Enabling access to education
  • Assisting in international development.

Jobs within the sector

Now you’ve narrowed down which causes you’re most invested in, it’s time to take a look at what type of role within the sector would best suit you. Here’s just a selection of the jobs you might consider:

Fundraiser

As a fundraiser, it would be your job to raise money for the organisation/cause by increasing personal and corporate giving. This might involve organising fundraising activities like sponsored events and raffles, building relationships with companies and exploring new fundraising opportunities. You may also need to approach individuals and companies to encourage donations and sponsorship deals.

Some skills you’d need for this type of work would be excellent communication skills, the ability to meet financial targets, creativity and a proactive attitude. Find out more about becoming a charity fundraiser.

Volunteer coordinator

Volunteers are the lifeblood of a lot of charity work, so volunteer coordinators are crucial. Your role would be to assess and meet an organisation’s needs by recruiting, training and managing voluntary workers. Typical responsibilities would include interviewing and selecting volunteers, coordinating their work, and evaluating and accrediting volunteers.

Key skills for this line of work include strong interpersonal skills, good organisation, the ability to motivate others and an empathy with a diverse range of people. Find out more about becoming a volunteer coordinator.

Community work

There are several different ways you can work within the community. You could be a community arts worker, for example. In this role, you would use your creativity to engage with people in the local community through art forms such as creative writing, dance, music and film. Or you might opt to be a community development worker where your aim would be to help communities bring about social change and improve the quality of life in their local area. Passionate about education? Why not become a community education officer? You would spend your time working on projects that would help people gain access to learning and develop their skills.

All of these roles would require that you have excellent communication and interpersonal skills, as well as empathy for other people’s experiences and the capacity to work collaboratively with a broad range of people.

Advice worker

In this role, your responsibility would be to offer free, impartial and confidential advice to clients. This could be for a range of issues, such as employment, immigration, health, family, housing, legal and finances/debt. You would provide this advice either face-to-face, by telephone or email, or online, for example through web chat.

Strong interpersonal skills would be a must, as well as the ability to cope with challenging and emotionally-charged situations. An excellent attention to detail and problem-solving skills are also key. Find out more about becoming an advice worker.

Campaigns, marketing and events

Working on campaigns can be vary varied and may have some crossover with marketing and/or event organiser roles. Depending on the role, you could be doing any of the following: writing press releases, creating petitions, lobbying the government, planning and hosting events, sending emails and letters, producing campaign materials, creating digital content and much more.

To thrive in this area, you’d need to be creative and flexible, have an ability to manage projects and see them through to completion, and work well in a team. Find out more about what it’s like to work in marketing and event management.

Youth worker

Do you have a desire to make a difference to the lives of young people and help them reach their full potential? Then you might be a natural fit for this line of work. You could be working with those aged 25 and below in places such as schools, colleges and youth centres to assist them with their social, educational and personal development.

You’d need to be confident working with young people to succeed in this role. Other essential qualities include resilience, interpersonal skills and the ability to encourage and inspire others. Find out more about becoming a youth worker.

Where to find charity jobs

There are lots of websites you can use when looking for roles in the charity sector.

  • CharityJob – the UK’s largest and most specialised job board that advertises non-profit, NGO, social enterprise, CIC and voluntary jobs.
  • Jobsgopublic – your first port-of-call if you’re after public sector jobs in local government, charity, education, housing and more.
  • Charity People – a recruitment agency that recruits talented applicants into rewarding positions on behalf of some of the biggest and smallest charities in the UK and further afield.
  • Third Sector Jobs – a specialist job site for the charity, not-for-profit and voluntary sectors from the publisher of Third Sector Magazine.

If there’s a specific charity or organisation you’d like to work for, you can also go directly to their website to see if they currently have any vacancies. We’ve also listed more websites you can use as part of your job search in this document.

Having work experience with charities will also work in your favour when applying for placements or graduate jobs within this sector. We advertise a whole host of exciting voluntary opportunities throughout the year over on Aston Futures – take a look at what’s currently on offer or get in touch with our JobShop team to find out more: jobshop@aston.ac.uk

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Jodie, a member of Careers+Placements staff

Written by Jodie Carpenter, Careers+Placements