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Charity and Development Work

  • Overview of the Sector

    In March 2018 there were 167,972 registered charities in the UK, ranging from small voluntary organisations to large charities with budgets of £5 million and over.

    73.5% of charities are smaller concerns with an annual income of up to £100,000. (

  • Main Areas of Work Are:

    Service delivery: eg social work, youth work, engineering, education.

    Fundraising: eg marketing, campaigning, communications, PR, grant applications, co-ordinating donations.

    Policy research or strategy: following political developments, identifying key stakeholders in the decision-making process at all levels, researching international trends.

    Administration: managing staff and budgets, and volunteer co-ordination (recruitment, training and co-ordination).

    Other areas include HR, government liaison, project management, and logistics.

  • What do I need to gain Graduate Employment?


    That depends on the job you want to do. For some roles, such as fundraising, your passion is most important. Experience or degrees in areas such as marketing, PR, events, sales and finance is sought after by charities.

    Some areas, including international development, have specific roles for people with professional qualifications, such as doctors, midwives, nurses and teachers. Bachelors degrees in logistics, public health or social policy may also be useful, while having a Masters in international development or a related area may give you the edge.

    For community development and volunteer co-ordinator roles, degrees in social work or youth and community are often required.  


    Volunteering - for a paid job in this area it is usually expected that you will have experience of volunteering. This demonstrates motivation and commitment as well as giving you an insight into the sector. This type of experience is also very accessible. See Volunteer SU and Volunteer Now.

    Graduate Schemes and Internships:

    The Person:

    Motivation: committed to the organisation, Administrative skills, Initiative and flexibility, organisational ability, Language skills: useful in some jobs, Adaptability and the ability to multitask, Negotiation skills, Innovation, Passion for the sector.


  • Key Employers
  • Local/ Northern Ireland Opportunities

    On Campus resources:

    • Work Experience and Placement Fair (February) – Voluntary organisations such as Autism Initiatives, National Trust and Macmillan Cancer Support have participated in previous years.
    • MyFuture– paid and voluntary positions advertised

    Advertised roles

    Charities are unlikely to be able to afford a significant marketing campaign. You’ll need to be proactive and hunt them down:

      • Sign up for tailored email alerts from job sites for example Reed/TotalJobs/recruitment agencies.
      • Check local job search websites.
      • Check vacancy pages on charity websites.
      • Follow companies on facebook and twitter. 

    Unadvertised roles & networking

    Some organisations may advertise internally or recruit someone through ‘word of mouth’. 

      • Volunteer to get included on internal communications.
      • Let previous volunteering positions know you’re job hunting.
      • Connect with groups on LinkedIn.
      • Contact charities speculatively to show interest.

    Northern Ireland Specific (websites with paid and volunteering opportunities)

    Job search websites specific to Northern Ireland include:

My Go Further Story

Christina Cousins
BSc Biomedical Science
Project Children Summer Internship, New Jersey

Christina Cousins Head

  • UK and Global Opportunities

    On Campus resources:

    • ‘Going Global’ – database of jobs and internships, key employers and country guides available through MyFuture -> Jobs -> Goinglobal
    • Opportunities to internationalise your degree (Erasmus, Study USA, EVS, INTO China) Advertised on MyFuture
    • Graduate Recruitment & Placement Fair– annual showcase (October) of NI and international firms with vacancies

    UK & Ireland:

    • Comhlamh- Supporter organisation for people interested in social justice, human rights and global development issues
    • NCVO- National Council for Voluntary Organisations. Umbrella body for the voluntary sector in England: the website has useful news and insights into the sector.
    • SCVO (Scotland)
    • WCVA (Wales)
    • Directory of Social Change– Key publications and training
    • Harrishill– recruitment agency focussing on the Charity sector

    Further afield?

    There are also numerous organisations that can help you find volunteering projects abroad, but be aware of the costs involved. For example, Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) offers International Citizen Service (ICS), where 18-25-year-olds travel to Africa or Asia on three-month development projects. However you would need to do some fundraising yourself to cover some of the costs.  Also check

    World Service Enquiry is an umbrella resource

    Some employers will have international offices, for example Concern Worldwide, Red Cross and VSO.  The Guardian newspaper has a strong charities job section. 

    Employment opportunities are also advertised on specialist websites, including:


  • Further Reading and Information

    Prospects industry insights and Gradireland sector career guides will help you to search for employment in this employment sector.

    Prospects Job Sectors

    Gradireland Career Sector Guides

    Further information resources are available at the Student Guidance Centre Hub (Opening hours: Mon- Fri 09:00- 17:00), including free copies of Gradireland, TargetJobs and Prospects guides plus self-help guides and employer brochures. The Student Guidance Centre Hub has free wifi, tea and coffee.

    This information is obtained from a variety of sources, including the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS), Association of Higher Education Careers Services (AHECS), Prospects, Gradireland and relevant professional organisations and other appropriate resources, as available.

    We endeavour to ensure that our online resources are current and contain relevant information. However, we cannot accept responsibility for the contents of external websites.