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Charity and voluntary sector

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

The charity and voluntary sector (third sector) includes over 169,000 registered charities in the UK, with a combined income in excess of £84 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, campaigning 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 finance, HR, IT roles), in addition to 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 Employability skills for some suggestions.

Work experience

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

See Do It 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
  • Sanctuary Group is a housing charity offering tailored graduate development programmes
  • Accelerate, two year programme with Cancer Research UK in research, technology, marketing and engagement, policy and communications

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, Handshake, 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.

Prepare for interviews with Shortlist.Me. Try these practice interviews from employers in the charity sector:

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.    

  • Get involved in volunteering through York Students in Schools or other projects
  • YUSU also has volunteering activities for you to take part in including the award-winning Minds in Motion project and RAG - great experience for a charity fundraising role
  • Use York Profiles and Mentors to find York graduates working in this sector - they are happy to answer questions and many have volunteered to be a mentor
  • Find out about developing key skills on Your employability skills page
  • Look out for relevant events on our What's on page
  • Find an internship in the sector, or develop relevant skills through a York Internships project, advertised on Handshake
  • Look at the student guide (and free student membership) from the Association for Project Management to acquire additional skills
  • Get a CV together - use the resources on the CV page to help you draft it, then upload your CV to CareerSet to get instant feedback
  • Listen to our What do you actually do? podcast episode with Cat Schroeter, senior fundraiser at Action for Children, for an insight into fundraising in the charity sector.

More resources: people to follow, podcasts, event recordings

People to follow

Connect with York graduates on York Profiles & Mentors

Find the full list of graduate profiles on York Profiles & Mentors.


Keep up to date with the sector and learn about the types of jobs available with these podcasts.