Charities and community organisations form a large part of the not-for-profit sector in the UK and offer an excellent array of career opportunities. Other not-for-profit organisations include social enterprises and development agencies.

The diverse range of charity organisations employ just over 900,000 people (about 3% of the UK workforce). Volunteering rates estimate that just over one in five working people in the UK volunteer at least once a month. Nine in ten UK households have accessed services provided by voluntary organisations at some point.

Many graduates are attracted to working in the public sector or charities as they offer a variety of pathways, with jobs ranging from policy making in the Civil Service and think tanks to working as a fundraiser for a charity.

The Prospects Charity and Voluntary work sector guide gives an overview of the different career pathways relevant to graduates considering working within the voluntary/community sector and roles available.

Roles can be directly or indirectly related to delivering a charity’s service, such as: Advice workers or campaigners; Environmentalists; Volunteer Coordinators; Community Development/Education; Policy or Research Assistant; Fundraiser/Grants Officer; HR/Finance/IT/Legal.

You can find further information on responsibilities, salary and qualifications, skills and work experience in the range of charity and voluntary work job profiles on the Prospects website.

Getting in and getting experience

If you are keen on entering this sector you need to be aware that relevant work experience and/or volunteering could boost your chances of being recruited. Entry requirements vary, but recruiters often look for generalist skills from graduates of any degree discipline.

Graduate level opportunities and internships

Very few structured graduate schemes exist in this sector with charities and so the main method of entry is to apply for specific advertised roles. There may be opportunities for graduate training with larger charities such as schemes like CharityWorks, which offers a paid 12 month training programme in a charity or housing association. It is therefore essential to get as much experience as possible as you may be applying for the same jobs as people already working in the sector.

Internships are short-term opportunities which give you experience of the world of work and a chance for personal development. Opportunities change from year to year depending on funding streams that organisations successfully access. Please note however, that many of them will be unpaid.

The resources listed below will give you an overview of the organisations and larger charities that run graduate schemes and internships.

Volunteering and training

Volunteering is a great way to build relevant experience if you are interested in working in the charities/voluntary sector. If you are a student of The University of Manchester, you can find information on internal and external opportunities on our volunteering page and search for opportunities on the University Volunteer Hub.

Many organisations run in house training for employees/volunteers relevant to the role and level, for example equality and diversity, interview techniques, volunteer management and charity trustee induction. You can find training courses, volunteering and events on the Manchester Community Central website.

Social Enterprise

Social enterprises are businesses that have a clear ethos to help improve communities or address social problems. These can range across sectors including environment, community, leisure & hospitality, job training, healthcare and creative industries. Social enterprises tend to reinvest profits and help to create opportunities for people in within their local communities and volunteering opportunities. If you have an idea for a social enterprise, our Enterprise webpages include further advice and support available to students and graduates.

University opportunities to gain insight and build skills

Public sector, health and charities Graduate JobSearch

Targeted job searches

Public sector and politics

Health and social care