Find out about careers in charities and voluntary organisations, including the range of jobs available, professional bodies, industry news and careers advice.
The following external websites provide careers advice about working in the sector:
- Prospects: charity and voluntary work
- TARGETjobs: Public service, charity and social work
- The Guardian: Charity careers
- Insitute of Fundraising
The Guardian provides information about the voluntary sector network.
Further industry news can be found on Civil Society's website.
These represent and promote the interests of people working in the sector, providing services such as training and networking opportunities. They often provide careers support for students and graduates and development for people already working in the sector.
Follow professional associations on LinkedIn, or visit their websites for useful sources of news, contacts, work experience and vacancies.
The main professional associations for this sector include:
- Association of Charitable Foundations
- Charity Commission
- Institute of Fundraising
- National Association for Voluntary and Community Action
- National Council for Voluntary Organisations
Making contacts is essential for success in this sector. Many jobs in this field are gained through networking and speculative applications. We've compiled a few places you could start:
Our online database, Graduate Connections, contains information about graduates who are happy to give you information and advice about the kind of work they do.
You can also find out what alumni did after graduation, how they got there, and contact them for advice and inspiration through Newcastle alumni on LinkedIn.
Conferences and charity and volunteering events
Attending conferences and charity and volunteering events will give you the opportunity to find out more about the work of the different organisations and speak to existing staff and volunteers. Do your research before attending any event so you have some informed questions to ask.
Recruitment fairs, open days, talks and other sector events give valuable insights and the opportunity to make useful contacts. Regular events for this sector include the annual conference of the International Development Society Newcastle and employer presentations.
Reference materials available in the Careers Service
The Ethical Careers Guide, Gideon Burrows
You may also be interested in:
- Community, Advice and Guidance
- Government, Politics and Policy
- Probation and Social Work
- Veterinary and Animal Care
Roles & Skills
Roles in charities and voluntary organisations range from advice workers, fundraisers and youth workers to development roles in communities or international aid.
We've included links to external websites that provide descriptions of typical duties, entry requirements and case studies for the range of careers in this sector:
Community arts worker
Community development worker
Community education officer
International aid/development worker
For more information on this role see our Development section.
Public relations officer
Skills employers look for
Skills required vary according to the specific role but the skills most employers in this sector look for include:
- communication, relationship building and interpersonal skills
- problem-solving and the ability to operate effectively under pressure and to tight budgets
- project and people management abilities
- drive and determination to achieve results, initiate action and motivate others
- the ability to manage workload, prioritise tasks and delegate when necessary
- self-awareness and organisational awareness
Some paid work experience opportunities are available but voluntary work is a common route into the sector.
By volunteering you can:
- acquire new skills
- learn more about the sector
- pursue opportunities within your chosen organisation
Check the Volunteering section of the Careers Service website for resources to find volunteering opportunities. These include Newcastle University Students' Union's (NUSU) Go Volunteer. In addition, you can search under 'voluntary' in the work experience section of the Careers Service Vacancies Online.
For further information, see our information about gaining experience in the Development sector.
You can also gain related experience through part-time jobs, eg in fundraising, admin, IT or finance. A background in these fields can offer an alternative entry point into the charity/voluntary sector. See our Part-time Jobs section for vacancies.
Joining student societies is another way you can gain relevant work experience.
In addition, NUSU has several societies that campaign and fundraise for humanitarian causes.
Find out how to join a charity as a trustee through the One Swallow Makes a Summer Blog.
Finding work experience
A few organisations offer internships - often open to graduates as well as students. These are often voluntary, meaning that they aren’t paid. Despite this, internships in this sector are highly competitive. Students completing internships in this sector may be eligible for our Careers Insight Bursary.
There are a number of organisations that provide internship opportunities.
Barnardo’s offers voluntary internships in a number of departments, the majority of these lasting for 12 weeks.
Interns also work in the International Secretariat (IS) offices of Amnesty International in London, Geneva and New York for four to six months.
Oxfam provides part-time voluntary internships lasting between three and 12 months. Roles in Oxfam range from digital media and marketing to HR and IT.
There is also the chance for longer-term placements in some organisations, for example The Charities Advisory Trust recruits interns annually, with a chance for longer-term placements or permanent jobs.
The following organisations also offer internships:
- Macmillan - events and fundraising opportunities
- People and Planet - press relations and web design opportunities
- The Starfish Greathearts Foundation - voluntary internships at its London office
Student Ladder lists internships in the charities and voluntary sector.
See Internships, placements and shadowing for additional ways to find work experience.
Opportunities to develop a career in this sector are wide-ranging once you are working for an organisation, but there are few graduate entry schemes. The small number of graduate schemes on offer are highly competitive.
The resources below will help you find and apply for jobs in charities and voluntary organisations.
Many charities don't have the resources for graduate schemes and prefer to take on staff as and when they are needed. You may have to begin working at a lower level and progress towards your ideal career.
Graduate schemes and entry level jobs
The following organisations offer graduate schemes:
Cancer Research UK
Cancer Research UK offers graduate training schemes in a range of areas including:
- scientific strategy and funding
- fundraising and marketing
- policy information and communications
CharityWorks offer a one-year, full-time graduate programme in a non-profit organisation. Positions include operations, business development, fundraising, campaigns, research, or a combination of these.
IntoUniversity recruits graduate trainee education workers.
Wellcome Trust offers two-year graduate programmes. These include a specific finance and investments programme and another for those interested in other areas, including funding, engagement and operations.
For a list of vacancies in the North East, see Voluntary Organisations' Network North East (VONNE)
UK and International
Third Sector Jobs lists charity, fundraising, voluntary sector and social enterprise sector jobs.
The following sites list vacancies in the UK and internationally:
There are also:
- Jobs Go Public
- Jobs in Charities
- Voluntary Jobs Board
- Voluntary Sector Jobs
- Institute of Fundraising
- Ethical Jobs
Find charities and voluntary organisations that interest you and get in touch, always with a named contact.
Be specific about why you are writing to them and what you’re looking for, showing your enthusiasm for the sector and highlighting any relevant skills. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get a reply – follow up with a phone call or email to show that you’re keen.
The following external websites can help with finding opportunities:
- Charity Commission: Find charities
- Guidestar UK - database of UK charities
- NCVO – Volunteer Centre Finder
- Institute of Fundraising: Suppliers directory - agencies, consultancies, technology vendors and fundraising consultants
See Finding a graduate job for more vacancy sources.
Self-employment in this sector is uncommon, and usually more appropriate for those with substantial experience, but it is possible. For further information read the Guardian's article: Thinking of going freelance? Here's what you need to know.
Find information on the range of activities and support available to eligible Newcastle students and graduates interested in starting a business or self-employment.
You can also read factsheets and reports on starting up and running a business by visiting our COBRA website.