Why should I work in the charity sector?

You might think that working for a charity would be all about fundraising or even managing a high street charity shop – but there's so much more to be found in the charity sector. Despite the fact that 91% of charities are run entirely by volunteers, there are plenty of exciting paid roles, often with many similarities to working in the private sector.

Depending on the size of the charity, employees may need to wear several hats – from pitching in with fundraising to managing social media – or the charity may require a very specific skillset for a clearly-defined role.

So if you’re looking to move on from a FTSE100 company, or a small business consultancy, why not consider a charity career?

What’s it like to work for a charity?

Developing marketable skills, working with a wide range of people and the chance to support your favourite causes are just some of the perks of working for a charity.

Charity recruitment is more competitive than people might think, as organisations target talented candidates. Retaining employees who share the same values and goals as the wider organisation is key in  the charity sector.

This often means that charities place huge emphasis on Continuing Professional Development (CPD). This can be through formal qualifications or informal workshops, conferences and events – all of which can help you see the bigger picture behind your work.

Charities are all about demonstrating impact and the good work they do. Seeing those results and knowing how your role, and the sector as a whole, contributes to that is an indisputable good feeling.

The Venturesome team on Giving Tuesday
The CAF Venturesome team volunteering on Giving Tuesday

How do I start a career in the charity sector?

There are many avenues into the charity sector:

Volunteer at board level

All charities are governed by Boards of volunteers, so if you want to find out what’s involved in working for a charity, this could be a good place to start. Find out more from Getting on Board.

Join a graduate scheme

Charityworks lets you work in a full-time, paid job while learning all you need to know about working and leading in the charity sector.

Join a leadership programme

We’re affiliated with On Purpose, a scheme that develops leadership skills across different placements in the social enterprise and charity sectors.

Sophie Preuss, who recently completed a six-month placement with CAF Venturesome, worked in the private sector before she joined the programme. She said: “I cannot express how valuable these last six months have been and how much I have learned. There’s a big difference in trying to learn as much as possible about social investment from ‘the outside’ by reading industry reports, attending conferences and meeting people for coffees versus actually working on social investment research projects, attending weekly team meetings, engaging with investees and attending industry conferences.

“On Purpose has provided me with a very structured approach to test out new sectors and upskill.”

Visit specialist recruitment websites

Aside from these programmes, charity jobs are posted regularly on LinkedIn, Totaljobs, and many other specialist charity recruitment sites such as TPP Recruitment, HarrisHill and Prospectus.

How much will I earn working for a charity?

As charities aim to attract top talent, salaries can be competitive or on-par with other industries, but benefits can vary.

What types of roles are there within the charity sector?

Check out our A-Z of just some of the recruitment areas you can consider:

  • Administration

    Admin roles are varied, even within a charity. You could be managing a Director’s diary or providing support to the Finance team.

  • Advice worker
    Many charities provide advice to people; so if you’re good at building rapport and helping people make choices this could be for you.
  • Advisory and consultancy

    If you’re good at building relationships and understanding individual and organisational needs, a role in advisory could make good use of your skills.

  • Business Development

    Not all charities raise money from the public, so these roles are more about building partnerships with other organisations, and winning tenders and contracts for services.

  • Communications, Media and Policy

    Building relationships with stakeholders and other organisations, including Government is key – as is an ability to raise awareness of your charity.

  • Customer services

    Dealing with customer enquiries calmly and efficiently means that donors are more likely to continue giving. Find out more from our Customer Service Representative, Alice.

  • Finance and accounting
    Finance specialists and accountants are vital to a charity’s success, when the primary function is to raise money and ringfence funds for certain projects.
  • Fundraising
    Raising money to support your charity’s beneficiaries is one of the most important roles of many charities. If you’re great at talking to people and influencing, fundraising could be the job for you.
  • Grant Management
    Grants Managers are tasked with planning and implementing funding programmes for charities. This is a great job for someone who has an eye for detail and analysis.
  • IT
    IT is crucial to building good and trusting relationships with donors, who may give regularly but also part with important data when doing so.
  • Leadership and management
    Strong leadership and effective management are crucial for a charity, ensuring that it can achieve the best outcomes for its donors, beneficiaries and staff.
  • Legal and compliance
    When dealing with a variety of financial regulations and compliance, legal and regulatory knowledge can be key to ensuring that the charity can remain in business.
  • Marketing

    Building awareness of your cause and running engaging campaigns to win and retain customers is a crucial part of a successful charity. Find out more about a career in charity marketing from our Senior Marketing Executive, Yasmin and Digital Content Executive, Jahed.

  • Project management
    Whether it’s installing a new IT infrastructure or developing a charity’s donation platform, project management skills are a real bonus for a charity – especially where money and time is precious.
  • Project worker
    You’ll work face to face with people (or animals!) in need of your charity’s support.
  • Research
    Charities rely on statistics and information to strategically plan their approaches to maximise their impact on society. This role offers and unrivalled level of diversity as charities seek to find answers to myriad questions.
  • Volunteer co-ordinator

    Volunteers are essential for many charities. If you enjoy motivating others, this could be the job for you.

Parting thoughts

Not everyone takes the same path into the charity sector. That’s what makes it an exciting place to work. From people who have thrived in the finance sector or retail banking, to those who have had careers in legal departments or customer services teams, there are so many ways that people can bring their unique skills and experiences in the vibrant world of charities.


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Find out more about what it's like to work with us; the roles we recruit for and the benefits we can offer you.

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