National Careers Week: Getting into the Charity Sector

Working in the charity sector

Often referred to as the third sector, the charity sector is an attractive option for those wanting to make a difference and feel a sense of purpose in their careers. With a varied range of career paths, charities have been attracting large numbers of applicants, including those looking for their first job after graduating.

I’ve put together an overview of what working in the sector involves, how you can get into the charity sector and how to make your application stand out.

What is the charity sector?

The charity sector refers to organisations that don’t make a profit; instead, their goal is to lead social change. This includes voluntary and community organisations, as well as other social enterprises. Despite popular belief, the charity sector does offer upward progression and it can be a stable career for those who want to move up through the ranks of an organisation.

What types of jobs are available within the charity sector?

As the charity sector is such a varied field, a multitude of jobs are available, with everything from social media management to coordination officers and logicians. It is important to note, that like most organisations, international roles require additional languages, and can be difficult to get into without a significant background in the sector.

How to get into the charity sector?

More often than not, volunteering is the easiest and most effective route into the charity sector. This is because it shows your dedication to the charity’s cause. However, often a background in any kind of volunteering can be helpful as it shows your interest in social enterprise as a whole. Although, volunteer experience alone cannot guarantee you a job.

You should also figure out what you’re interested in and focus on applying for jobs with this in mind. If you are tech-savvy then consider applying to roles which focus on IT or programming. It is also important to choose a role that you can learn from. Think about how working in this job could benefit you in the future.

If you are looking to progress within the field, but feel stagnant in your current position: Don’t be afraid to move out of your role or charity. Consider applying to a different position elsewhere.

Who pays those who work in the charity sector?

Salaries within the charity sector come from general funds. General funds come from voluntary funds or government support.

How to stand out?

A passionate cover letter is always key to standing out, think: “why do you want to work here?” Relate your experiences and interests to their ethos and fundamental information. What unique experience do you have? What can you bring to the sector?

How to make use of SOAS to get into this career

Join societies! Not only do these help develop your interests but they are also good for networking. Use your experiences as President or Treasurer to frame your cover letter. These voluntary experiences are great for filling in gaps you may have from a lack of work experience.

Alongside societies, take advantage of student media positions, including Student and Digital Ambassador schemes. Not only are they great for building up a portfolio of work, but they are also great for building your skills and learning how to use programs such as WordPress, Canva and Adobe Creative Suite. What’s more, content creation is important in every job as every organisation requires marketing and advertisements.

Ruby Punt is a SOAS Digital Ambassador, pursuing her MA in Comparative Literature. When she isn’t studying Korean or Mandarin, she’s likely working on her next project for the SPA or on her blog Toward the Horizon. Find her on Instagram at  @Ruby.Punt.

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