Charity and Voluntary Sector Career Guide

The charity and volunteer sector, or third sector as it is often called, can be an incredibly satisfying area to work. Many of the organisations in this sector work to have a positive impact on many people’s lives, after all. Most roles in this sector are office-based, but there are also opportunities for international and national fieldwork. In addition to industry-specific roles, almost all charitable organisations need marketing professionals, accountants, managers, administrators, and more. This makes a very versatile sector to work in, and one in which you can often leverage any existing skills to great effect.
A clourful example flow chart of the charity fundraising process.


Potential Roles in the Charity and Voluntary Sector

Like many industries, the third sector has a number of industry-specific jobs. Below are three examples of popular roles that are unique to this sector.


Charity Fundraisers work to ensure that a charitable or non-profit organisation has the necessary funding to execute their plans. Most Charity Fundraiser jobs will focus on securing donations from both individuals and organisations. This role often centres around building networks and managing relationships with donors. Raising awareness of an organisations work is also a big part of the job.


Charity Administrators can be responsible for a variety of tasks in a non-profit organisation. The specifics of a Charity Administrator job will tend to depend on the type and size of the organisation, but you can expect to work across disciplines including marketing, business development, fundraising, events, and some aspects of volunteer work. This is a popular entry-level role for those looking to start a career in the charity sector.


International Aid Workers generally work on behalf of charitable organisations directly with people and communities, both internationally and in the UK. International Aid Worker jobs mainly focus on helping local communities to set up solutions to problems they might be facing. The nature of these solutions and support depends on the charity’s area of concern or expertise. It can include anything from human rights and education to building sustainable water supplies.


International aid workers with food supplies in brown paper bags


Salary and Career Progression


Charity Fundraisers generally start on anything from £15,000 to £20,000 per year. Some organisations may offer slightly more, and starting salaries are often closely tied to the size and scope of an organisation. At mid-level, you can expect to earn anywhere from £25,000 up to £30/40,000. Director level fundraisers can hit salaries above £55,000.


Charity Administrators begin in a similar salary range to charity fundraisers at the start of their career. Anything from £15,000 to £20,000, or slightly above, is fairly standard. With experience and increased specialisation in relevant areas, a Charity Administrator can earn anything from £20,000 up to £30,000 or more. Senior and lead level positions, meanwhile, generally offer a salary of £30,000 and above. Again, the larger the charity, the more you can expect to earn in a senior position – over £65,000 in some cases.


International Aid Workers tend to have a slightly higher starting salary range than the above roles. This can greatly vary depending on the type of aid work, and the size of the NGO of course. Anything from £18,000 to £25,000 is normally the industry standard. One career option for Aid Workers is to move into an advisory role. These positions can pay anything between £25,000 to £50,000 per year, and are often based in the UK. Overseas postings will tend to require more experience, although also often end up paying less. A Field Coordinator or Regional Programme Manager working internationally can expect to earn anything from £20,000 to £35,000 on average.


Qualifications, Education and Experience


Charity Fundraiser roles aren’t too demanding in terms of expected qualifications in most cases, although this can depend on the nature of the organisation and the type of work the charity does. Having a degree (ideally in a related field) or HND is still expected in most cases. Degree level or above qualifications in the following areas can be useful:


  • Marketing
  • Media
  • Business
  • Fundraising Training Courses


Charity Administrator roles can have differing qualification requirements depending on the NGO and nature of the role itself. It is worth noting that any volunteering experience can help you stand out for this kind of job. Additionally, a degree, HND, or foundation degree in the following areas are generally considered favourably by prospective employers:


  • Social Policy
  • Administration
  • Marketing
  • Law
  • Economics
  • Community Development
  • Business Studies
  • Sociology


International Aid Workers will normally be expected to have a degree in social sciences or a relevant subject that synergises with the nature of the work the charity does. While it can be possible to get into an International Aid Worker role purely on experience alone, it’s not that common. As a result, the following qualifications can very much increase your chances when applying for a job as an International Aid Worker:


  • Sanitation Engineering
  • Water Engineering
  • Medicine
  • Logistics
  • Languages
  • Nursing
  • Human Rights
  • Economics




Charity Fundraisers will need the following skills to succeed:


  • General administration
  • Organisation
  • Able to work to targets
  • Commitment to a charity’s goals and cause
  • Teamwork
  • Able to work well under pressure
  • Excellent written and verbal communication
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Determined
  • Self-motivated
  • Proactive
  • Creative thinking
  • Entrepreneurial spirit


Charity Administrators can often have quite diverse day to day tasks. This, in turn, requires an equally broad skill set to be successful. Some of the stand out professional and soft skills that employers will often look for include:


  • Adaptability
  • Empathy
  • Analytical thinking
  • Research
  • Confident handling multiple tasks and projects
  • Marketing and PR
  • Flexibility
  • Organisation
  • Excellent written and verbal communication
  • Relationship building
  • Good working knowledge of the Charity Sector


A charity worker's hand reaches out to support someone in need.


International Aid Worker skills are mainly focused around communication, decision making, and problem-solving. Required skills often include:


  • Fluency in at least one other language based on regional assignment
  • Empathy
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Patience
  • Able to see the big picture
  • Manage and prioritise work
  • Problem-solving
  • Organisational awareness
  • Self-awareness
  • Cultural sensitivity
  • Decision making
  • Leadership
  • Able to live in basic conditions
  • Comfortable with long-distance travel


Working Hours

The majority of charity sector jobs are office-based and will tend to fall into the standard working hours of nine to five. This can vary depending on the role of course – certain campaigns and events may require non-traditional working hours or a more flexible approach.


Charity Fundraisers generally have a standard working week of 35 to 40 hours, although as mentioned above, these can sometimes change due to the need to attend events. This can mean working at weekends, although most organisations offer flexible working or time off in lieu as a result. Many third sector organisations offer part-time or job share options for these kinds of roles as well.


Charity Administrators mainly work from nine to five. While there can occasionally be reasons for working outside these hours, this role tends to offer the most predictable working hours compared to some others in the sector.


International Aid Workers can have highly changeable hours, especially given the fact the role will often require working in different time zones. Many International Aid Worker roles coincide with emergency relief work, which means hours can be long and demanding. It’s also worth noting that most NGOs hire Aid Workers on a contract basis, which can lead to breaks in available work. UK or office-based International Aid Worker roles will tend to follow more standard working hours, however.


Notable Locations

The majority of charities and third sector organisations are mainly located in the middle and south of England. As such, these are the best places to look for jobs in the charity sector:


  • London (especially Islington)
  • Manchester
  • Liverpool
  • Sheffield
  • Birmingham
  • Nottingham
  • Cambridge
  • Peterborough
  • Leeds
  • Oxford


Notable Companies

There are hundreds of charities and NGOs in the UK, many of which are large and well established. Some potential places to work include:


  • Oxfam
  • Cancer Research
  • The National Trust
  • RNLI
  • The Samaritans
  • Save The Children
  • British Red Cross
  • Amnesty International
  • Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity
  • Macmillan


Next Steps

Now you’ve got a good overview of what to expect in this sector, we recommend registering with JobLookup and setting up job alerts for any roles you’re interested in. Make sure to have a read through our Ultimate Jobseeker Guide to help give any application the best possible chance too.

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