Skip to main content
Join us on Facebook Alumni Profile
Anna Kirey, Amnesty International

Anna Kirey is the Deputy Director of Campaigns for the Russia and Eurasia Region at Amnesty International.


Depending upon the role you are aiming for, many skills can be relevant to the Third sector. Below is a basic guide to the sorts of skills you might be expected to have. 

  • Communication
  • Team player
  • Empathy
  • Inter-personal skills
  • Administration
  • Passion
  • Driven
  • Independent
  • Flexibility
National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO)

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations provides support and advice, updates on voluntary sector news, as well as training and volunteering opportunities pages. 

It is a useful resource, especially for those who wish to specialise in Volunteer Co-ordination.

Their website can be found here

Job Sites

If you would like to start a job search or find more information about Third Sector careers, take a look at the links below.

DO IT Volunteering
Still Not Sure?

If you're still not sure about which sector you want to go into, you can find our other Careers Portfolios below.

Charities/Third Sector

Charities/Third Sector

Charities/Third Sector

Charities/Third Sector

Charities/Third Sector

Charities/Third Sector

Charities/Third Sector

Charities/Third Sector

Working for a charity is incredibly rewarding – it's a career path that focuses on driving change and helping to improve the lives of others. Charity work requires dedicated people with true passion, and working for a cause you believe in is extremely fulfilling. This sector has many specialised areas, so do your research and find the right charity for you.

Guardian Jobs, January 2019

Sub sectors

Due to the way in which most charities are run, there is a huge variety of roles that transfer well into the Third Sector. Many typical office-based roles are necessary, such as HR, PR & Marketing, and administrative jobs, as well as those roles specific to the Third Sector such as Campaigns, Volunteer Management, Events and Fundraising.

For more information, please click on the drop down tabs below.

Fundraising is one of the major areas in which to specialise in the Third sector. Because charities rely on funding to do their work, they employ many people whose job is to raise the funds necessary for their goals to be fulfilled. 

Roles in fundraising involve increasing contributions to the charity from individuals and groups by building relationships and exploring new and innovative fundraising ideas and opportunities. 

This often also intersects with events, as they are a common source of fundraising for larger charities. It could also involve managing outside "ambassadors", members of the public who raise money for the charity independently but need to be kept in contact with on a regular basis and provided with resources and support when necessary.

There is also often a research element to these roles, as they may involve discovering and applying for trust funding, lottery funding and statutory sources, as well as writing bids.  

In larger charities fundraisers are likely to specialise in one type of fundraising, as outlined below. However, smaller charities will often cover several or all of these types.

  • Corporate fundraisers - raise money from businesses in various ways, from organising payroll giving, to agreeing sponsorship of major events. This may suit someone with a good understanding of business.
  • Trust and statutory fundraisers - bid for trust and grant money. This may appeal more to people who enjoy researching and preparing proposals.
  • Community fundraisers - the main point of contact for most mainstream fundraising involving members of the public. It will suit those who can work with people from all walks of life and are keen to get involved in a variety of fundraising activities.
  • Major donor fundraisers - focus on developing relationships with key supporters who can donate high-value gifts. Often this is a role to which experienced fundraisers progress.
  • Legacy fundraisers - encourage supporters to consider leaving a gift to the charity in their will. This may suit people with an interest in law or accountancy.

Charities often employ individuals in research roles in order to inform potential policy and ways in which to communicate policy to the public. 

This is the foundation of what the charity acts upon, so is hugely important and involves a great amount of responsibility, especially in contentious or politically charged areas.

The roles involve preparing briefing documents and public positioning statements on key policy issues, as well as responses to government consultations, so require huge attention to detail and a good awareness of political issues and equality and diversity regulations.

The research could incorporate quantitative and qualitative analysis on available data, so skills in social research are hugely desirable. Please see the Social Research Portfolio for more information.

Campaign roles are central to the work of charities. Individuals in this sub-sector are responsible for the management, design and implementation of the policies and campaigns that the charity decides to pursue based on the research provided from Policy & Research workers. If a charity is small, the research and delivery of campaigns could all be combined into a single role, so it depends on which charity you apply for as to the exact tasks on the job.

Campaigns are the most public facing part of a charity, as they are the output that attempts to influence members of the public and change the world for the better on specific issues. 

Therefore, these roles will require an in depth knowledge about the specific field or issue that the charity focuses on, and you are guaranteed to be expected to know about this at interview. 

Much of a charity's roles are often volunteer based roles, and there is therefore a necessity to employ individuals to manage and organise these volunteers in order to smoothly run the charity's projects and achieve their goals. 

These roles often involve strong management, organisation and leadership skills, as the charity relies on them to recruit and co-ordinate the volunteers that do so much of the work for the charity.

In larger charities, communications may be split into separate roles, but in smaller organisations these tasks will often come under the jurisdiction of the Campaigns or Maketing teams. 

Communications refers to the content of the output of the charity, and those who work in this area are responsible for writing and designing the words that communicate key messages to the charity's target audiences. 

This could involve writing content for campaigns or the charity's website, as well as managing and writing newsletters, annual reports and social media accounts for the charity. 

These roles require strong writing and in-person communication skills, as well as team work as you will be working alongside many of the other sub-sectors' workers in order to deliver the correct message for the campaign or policy briefing. 

PR & Marketing are not only required in for-profit companies, but charities must also manage and raise their profile and brand with the public. 

These roles involve planning and delivering marketing campaigns through celebrity endorsements, media appearances and online presence. 

It is centrally important in these roles to ensure that the message of the campaigns is understood by those it targets, and not misunderstood by others. This is vital to ensuring that the charity's brand is protected and that their messages do not cause offence or harm to those they are trying to help.

More information can be found in the PR & Marketing Portfolio, and as you can see, the Third sector involves incorporating roles from many other sectors in order to engage in the charity's missions.

Training & qualifications

There are a variety of different qualifications and training opportunities available within the charity sector, but they are far less formally organised than in many other sectors.

Depending on what role you are looking for, employers may require specific training just as in any other company setting. For more information on these specific opportunities, please see the other Careers Portfolios, listed in the sidebar on the right hand side of this page. 

Open the drop down tabs below to learn more about different ways to gain training within the Third sector.

Volunteering is the most important thing you can to do to gain experience and qualifications in the Third sector. Most charities cannot afford to employ many staff, and so volunteering gets your foot in the door with charities that would otherwise have to turn you down for paid employment. 

Furthermore, it shows your dedication to the causes that the charity supports, and it also provides opportunities to receive training about how the charity runs and skills that are necessary for working in the Third sector in the future. 

Be aware that while volunteering you may need to self-fund your own training, as there is limited funding for such courses from the charities themselves. 

There may be some funding available so that you are undertaking a paid internship through the Access 2 Internship Scheme.  Please check the criteria here. 

The CharityWorks Graduate scheme is a paid, 12-month long scheme designed for graduates in order to build their experience of the Third Sector and afford them understanding of key issues and the national network of charities in the UK. In addition, leadership training is given alongside the programme to prepare candidates to be leaders in the Third sector in the future.

It involves delivering a full-time job in a partner charity or housing association, and begins in September of each year. Successful candidates are payed £18,800 UK-wide and £21,600 in London (20/21 pay rates).

It is extremely competitive due to it being one of the only specific graduate schemes in the Third sector, so the application process is tough. 

In order to apply you must have at least a 2:1 undergraduate degree or a Masters qualification in any discipline, as well as at least one piece of experience that demonstrates your commitment to social change.


For more information on the scheme, please see their website here.


Your choice of modules during your degree is an excellent opportunity to build specific skills and knowledge that will aid you in your career path within the Third Sector.

Many of the modules on offer in the College of Social Sciences and International Studies will involve learning about and critically analysing social issues that are central to the work of charities.

Due to the nature of many roles within the Third sector, a good understanding of the complexities of the social world is vital, and your choice in modules is therefore especially important if you have a specific charity type you would like to work for. 

Below are some examples of modules within the SSIS departments you may want to consider taking in order to develop your understanding and gain the specific knowledge required within the sector. These modules may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.

Postgraduate study

Postgraduate study may be relevant to the Third sector, but it depends upon which area you wish to enter and what issues the charities you apply for deal with.

A Masters is likely to be useful if not necessary in the field of International Development, and you may find that other areas want you to have pursued further studies to develop your knowledge of the area that they work in. 

Similarly, if you wish to specialise in policy and research, a relevant postgraduate course may be necessary. Please see the Social Research Portfolio for more details. 

If there is a specific area you wish to study, you can perform a search for postgraduate qualifications at


Internships are relatively common within the Third Sector, and are often a route into a full-time or part-time paid role. 

Charities will seek to employ those that already understand how they operate, and so internships or volunteering are a excellent opportunity to demonstrate this expert knowledge and work your way up in the sector. 

Unfortunately, the vast majority of internships in the sector are un-paid, so be prepared for this.

You can search for internships on several Third sector job websites, including and

Also, take a look at Handshake and search for upcoming opportunities. 

However, most internships and jobs in the sector are NOT LISTED, so if there is a specific charity that you wish to work for it is worth contacting them directly to enquire about possible internship or work experience opportunities. 

Extra-curricular Experience

Extra-curricular activities are arguably the most important aspect of an applicants CV in the Third Sector. They are the place employers look for you to demonstrate your dedication to and awareness of the charity's work, as well as a commitment to the sector. 

There are many opportunities to gain extra experience during your time at university, but below are some examples of things you could consider. 

We have split this into Student Union opportunities and Volunteering, and have highlighted some of the options that are most relevant to the Third sector. This is by no means an exaustive list, and depending upon the charity you wish to apply for, there may be specific opportunities available to showcase your interest. 

If this is the case, you should do your own research on the Student's Guild website or the Student Union website Penryn and contact charities directly to enquire about volunteering openings. 

You may also want to consider the Career Mentor Scheme where you can apply for a mentor from a particular sector or profession to mentor you for 6 months.

Joining societies and getting involved with the Students' Guild Streatham or Student Union Penryn activities is a fantastic opportunity to gain experience for your CV and show your dedication to your chosen area of interest.

This is especially important in the Third Sector, as discussed above.

Below is a list of some Societies or student groups that you might consider joining in order to give your skill set a boost and make yourself stand out from the crowd.

Volunteering is the most important way to show your dedication to the Third sector, and experience in this area will often be considered in equal regard as paid employment on your CV.

Much of the projects run by the Exeter Student Volunteering (ESV) part of the Guild are relevant, as are volunteering projects at the Penryn campus run by the SU. There are also many other opportunities on our campuses so you will certainly be able to find something you’re interested in. Some examples are listed below;

  • ESV Global Touch – provides support to local school students in Exeter for whom English is a second language – volunteers are required to speak a foreign language fluently – volunteering 2 hours per week.
  • ESV Project Restore – rehabilitates survivors of human trafficking – raise awareness – legal advisors, business development, research, communications team, fundraising team, befrienders who work with survivors.
  • ESV Persistent Pain Project – arts and crafts workshops every week for adults with chronic pain – valuable insight into real social issues.
  • ESV Phab Project – promote and encourage people of all abilities to participate in activities together – social issues insight.
  • ESV Department & Society Linked Volunteering – 20 projects from primary school language clubs to care home reading projects.
  • ESV Elderly Connect – volunteer with isolated elderly and provide them with a range of activities that change every week – social issues insight.
  • ESV Inspiring Futures – inspiring young carers to have ambition to pursue higher education.
  • ESV Food Action Project – take unsold food from our outlets on campus, and make sure they are given to those who need it most – social issues.
  • ESV Homeless Action Project – provides food, hot drinks and normalized human interaction to Exeter’s rough sleepers.

There are also opportunities beyond ESV, within and outside of the university;

  • Exeter Council for Voluntary Services – resources about local volunteering opportunities.
  • Exeter Nightline – communication skills, volunteering to keep people safe and be aware of social issues.
  • Student Ambassador Scheme – huge range of skills developed and a chance to show dedication to the student community.
  • Volunteer Cornwall - local volunteering opportunities


If you need further guidance, you can also take a look at the Career Zone resource "Get your Career Started with Volunteering" for more information.

Gethyn Williams, Director of Development & Engagement

Watch our interview with Gethyn Williams as he discusses his involvement with the Career Mentor Scheme and how he has helped two graduates who are thinking about working in the charity sector.

Career Zone

Below, you can find feeds of the current jobs, events and mentors available through The Career Zone that are relevant to the Third Sector.

Click on any of the links to be taken to the specific page.

The Career Mentor Scheme is a popular employability scheme which matches experienced professionals with a mentee (current student or recent graduate), to meet monthly for sector insights and one to one careers advice and guidance over a six month period.

Find out more.