What is it like to work for a charity?

In a recent webinar, Simon Allen, OA Chief Operations Officer, shared his experiences of working in the charity sector.

Overview of the sector
(Figures from the Charities Commission, covers England and Wales only)

  • 167,000 registered charities
  • 853,000 people work in the sector
  • Combined annual income of £74 billion
  • Majority (73%) are small (income < £500,000 a year)
  • But 11,300 bigger charities (income > £500,000 a year) – they have a combine annual income of £67 billion
  • Large proportion are based in London and the South East
  • Diverse sector, covering many causes, industries, locations and campaigns.

What can former officers offer the sector?

  • Soft skills – flexibility, adaptability, leadership and a ‘can do’ attitude, integrity and courage
  • Staff skills – analysis and planning, organisation and communication
  • Technical skills – IT, project management, financial, HR, events management and logistics.

Finding the right charity
Charities vary considerably in size, values and culture, so you need to choose a charity whose purpose you believe in.

A larger charity will generally have more roles available, higher salaries and be better resourced. However, these charities can be more bureaucratic and the roles more specialised. In smaller charities, employees will likely be generalists, have lower salaries and fewer opportunities for career progression, but can often make a greater individual impact.

Job satisfaction
Working for a charity can be hugely rewarding, because they have a strong social conscience. Individuals can also see their direct contribution to improving a situation. Many charities offer flexible working, but be aware that some try to assign full-time work to a part-time job. There is also a misconception that charity jobs are easier than their commercial counterparts, when the truth is they can be equally demanding. Projects that need to be delivered to a strict schedule with limited resources is an environment where former officers excel.

Watch the webinar

About Simon Allen
Simon Allen is the OA Chief Operations Officer. He served in the Royal Tank Regiment for 19 years, and subsequently worked in both the commercial and charity sectors.

About Clive Lowe
Clive Lowe is a Career Consultant at the OA. He served in the Royal Engineers and Gurkha Engineers for 12 years, before establishing a career in property development and management.

Register with the OA to access our employment services.