Could You Work for a Charity?

The non-profit sector is a large and diverse sector, offering many different roles. Here is why you should consider working for a charity.

There are more than 183,000 charities registered with the Charity Commission that work in different areas, including education, foreign aid, health, military, nature conservation, social care and sport. You should easily find an organisation that supports a cause you feel passionately about. Using your skills to help an organisation that you value will increase your chances of success.

The charity shop run by volunteers is only a small part of the non-profit sector. Many large charities have a corporate structure, with Finance, HR, Legal, Communications and Operations departments. They need an effective business model to fundraise and run efficiently. For example, Oxfam has more than 5,000 employees and an annual income of around £414 million.

All officers are experienced at working in a professional environment for large organisations, so can often adapt quickly to the non-profit sector. However, you must still consider your other skills and what type of role you would be suitable for.

When applying for a job, emphasise your financial planning; income generation and stakeholder engagement achievements. Perhaps gain some work experience as a trustee, or as a member of working group. This will also prove your passion to the charity’s cause.

Unsurprisingly, former officers are great leaders. Charities often work in difficult situations, with limited resources, which will be familiar to any officer. You will usually join as a senior manager, Chief Executive or board director, requiring strong operations and leadership skills. However, the direct style of management, typical in the military, can be less effective in a charity. Instead, a more consultative and negotiable approach is usually better.

The non-profit sector has a high employee retention rate, because they often believe in their organisations’ core values. Their career satisfaction comes from knowing that they are helping people – an attitude shared by ex-service Personnel.

If you need help choosing the right career, the OA offers professional, impartial and practical advice on all aspects of transition and employment. To access our services, register online.