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Getting into the charitable sector

Getting into the Charitable Sector

The Third Sector includes organisations that are not-for profit and non governmental, as distinguished from the public and private sectors. It is also referred to as the voluntary, community, non-profit or civic sector.

There are currently over 180,000 charities in the UK today, employing around 778,000 paid workers.

Although there is certainly plenty of opportunity in the sector, getting a first job in a charity, particularly in the current economic climate, can be challenging. There is a wide variety of charities in the sector, providing services in different areas.

Charities also vary greatly in size, with most being small organisations - 89% of charities have an annual income of under £100,000. However, the larger charities employ the greatest number of staff.

One major attraction is the quality of life you get in the sector

Not-for-profit organisations have been quick to realise the merits of a good work-life balance, and they often offer much more flexible working conditions than the private sector, as well as the increased job satisfaction of knowing you are making a positive contribution to society.

Opportunities for career progression are huge

Especially now that the not-for-profit arena is so diverse, skills such as strategic thinking, project management, fundraising and public relations, which are core to many voluntary organisations, are now easily transferable throughout the sector. However, jobs are still in high demand and this sector is very competitive.

Our advice if you are looking to enter the sector is to consider your options first.

Think about what kind of work you’d like to do, and how this correlates with your existing skills. Be flexible and patient. Take time to explore all the options. Then, once you’ve decided on an area, draw up a logical plan.

What should I consider?

Consider your existing skills and previous experience. There is a huge range of organisations in the not for profit sector, requiring employees with a wide variety of skills.

There are some big skills and knowledge gaps that many voluntary sector organisations need to address. These include:

  • Strategic IT expertise

  • Legal knowledge

  • Strategic planning & thinking

  • Health & safety

  • Marketing

  • Leadership experience & expertise

However, almost any set of skills will be relevant for some organisations within the sector.

Think about your interest and passions

Charities prefer to employ staff who genuinely believe in their mission, so they remain motivated and enthusiastic. Looking for jobs that fit both your existing skill set and your interests will increase your chances of finding a role, as well as making your time in the sector more rewarding.

Be prepared to be flexible in your requirements

When looking for a job in the sector, you’ll need to balance traditional considerations such as salary, size of organisation and job title, against more intangible benefits like increased job satisfaction, improved benefits and a better working environment.

Gain experience in the sector

Review ways in which you can gain experience of the third sector and your chosen type of organisation. Volunteering, temping or contract work, and becoming a trustee are all ways in which to make yourself much more attractive to prospective employers.

Find out more about volunteering

Find out more about temping with TPP

What kind of work can I do?

These are the main recruitment areas for not for profit organisations:

  • Service delivery roles – these roles are at the interface between the organisation’s mission and the people who access the service, for example social work, counselling

  • Volunteer management and co-ordination

  • Charity management, finance & administration

  • Marketing, communications and campaigning – organisations rely on getting their message across using different methods such as major public events and through the media.

  • Support services such as IT, facilities, secretarial

  • Infrastructure roles – there is considerable infrastructure set up to support and regulate this sector, for example, the Charity Commission

  • Human resources

  • Policy & research

  • Executive-level staff

  • Fundraising

​There is no doubt that a career in the third sector can be rewarding and stimulating and can offer an employee the chance to not only make the present a better place, but to also be part of shaping the future.

Find out more about working with TPP

Browse our latest charity jobs

Read our career advice articles

What roles does TPP cover?

TPP recruits for:

  • Senior and executive jobs in charities

  • Fundraising jobs in charities

  • Finance and accountancy jobs in charities

  • Office and specialist support jobs in charities

  • HR jobs in charities

  • Marketing and communications jobs in charities

  • Healthcare jobs in charities, GP practices and hospitals

  • Social care and housing jobs in charities and care homes

  • Education and training jobs in charities