Watering a green plant in the sunlight

March 15, 2019, by Katy Johnson

Make A Difference Working For A Charity

By Lorna Airey, Employability Officer

A recent Twitter poll for UoN students and alumni on career motivations revealed that 46% of respondents were primarily motivated by the idea of ‘making a difference’. There are many ways this can be achieved in a role and working for a charity is one of them.  

What do you need to consider when pursuing a career within the charity sector?

1. Many Different Types Of Roles 

In charities, certain jobs may spring to mind such as aid workers, fundraisers and advice workers, however, these roles are just the tip of the iceberg. Depending on the aims of the charity there will be lots of different frontline roles. Additionally, most charities will function like a business and require back-office roles including human resources, finance, marketing, and IT. Some may also request specialist technical or research skills for certain roles.  

Have a look at Prospects for some of the common roles that exist within the charity sector.  

2. Limited Budget 

The very nature of a charity is that there are limited financial resources, especially when it comes to employing staff. There are various implications of this: 

  • Smaller workforce; As far as possible charities will want to keep paid staff to a minimum, relying heavily on volunteers to achieve their goals. This can mean that employees have a wider remit and more responsibility than their private sector counterparts.
  • Fixed term contracts; Roles are often funded for a particular short to medium-term project. On the plus side, this can be a great way of gaining experience and getting a foot in the door.
  • Lower salaries; roles within the charity sector do often pay less, than their equivalent roles in other sectors. 
  • Less formalised training; There may also be less scope for formal training or sponsorship for qualifications within the charity sector. If you are looking to gain professional qualifications to develop within your role, you may need to fund these yourself. 

There are pros and cons to every role, and it is important to decide which are the most important motivators for you. You can use our online tools to help you figure this out, you can also book an appointment to talk things through with one of our careers advisers. 

3. Experience Counts 

Roles within the charity sector can be very competitive, and a lot of applicants will have a degree  you will need something to set you apart from the rest. University is a great time to be building your CV, there are lots of volunteering opportunities available through the SU. You can also have a look at do-it.org which provides information about volunteering opportunities across the country. We have lots of tips on the careers website about how to gain work experience while you’re at university. 

4. Networking Can Be Beneficial 

You can build a network of contacts quite organically through volunteering and attending relevant events within your field of interest, and it doesn’t need to be a daunting prospect. For example, one of our alumna, who is now working for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, found out about her current role by attending the National Bee Summit, meeting the team and volunteering for the organisation. When a vacancy arose she had gained the relevant experience and had already made a good impression.   

For more information about roles within the charity sector, where to look for vacancies, and recent case studies, have a look at our website.  

Posted in Careers Advice