Charity and voluntary sector

Group of volunteers pointing at the camera

Discover other sectors

This sector not for you?  Don't worry, there are plenty of others to explore.

The charity and voluntary sector (third sector) includes over 167,000 registered charities in the UK, with a combined income in excess of £75 billion. The sector offers a wide range of job opportunities, in large and small organisations. You could be directly involved in providing care and support, or working in a business role, fundraising, campaiging or in policy and research.

Find out about the charity and voluntary sector

Key resources

Research the sector and keep up with current issues by reading:

What skills do I need?

Depending on the role you are considering, specific qualifications may be required (eg for finance, HR, IT roles), as well as knowledge of the sector. Look at job descriptions to see what employers are looking for. You are likely to need:

  • passion and motivation
  • communication and relationship building skills
  • organisation, planning, time management
  • creativity, adaptability and innovation
  • negotiation - especially for fundraising
  • leadership and management (of paid staff and volunteers)
  • resilience

Can you demonstrate you have these skills, or can you develop them? See Your employability skills and qualities for some suggestions.

Work experience

The chance to do some work shadowing, an internship or volunteering not only shows your committment to a cause and gives you relevant experience, but can help you test whether it's the right industry for you: 

See www.do-it.org to find details of organisations, and contact them directly to see if they have any opportunities. Volunteers are often in the best position to hear about any paid roles that might become available.

Finding jobs

Some graduate schemes in the sector include:

  • Charityworks is the UK's non profit sector's graduate programme which is a paid, 12 month graduate scheme 
  • Worthwhile runs a graduate scheme with a focus on social impact
  • Gradunique is a two year graduate development programme delivered by Macmillan Cancer Support and the British Heart Foundation
  • Sanctuary Group is a housing charity offering tailored graduate development programmes

Consider the option of first gaining qualifications/experience/skills in the public or private sector and moving into the voluntary sector later - this is a significant entry route for many.

Vacancies are posted directly on organisations' websites, Careers Gateway, newspapers and through specialist websites including:

The recruitment process is likely to vary depending on the size of the organisation you are applying to. See our pages on the recruitment process for more information.

What can I do at York?

There are lots of things you can do to help you learn more about this sector, and get valuable experience to boost your chances of success.