Starting out in a Charity: Choosing the right type of organisation for you

2 minute read

find the right charity jobStarting out in the Third Sector can be a real challenge; the range of job opportunities is extremely varied. Whatever you are looking for, here’s a basic introduction to different organisations within the third sector.
By Emma Bennett,
Charity Trustee and Blogger

Small or Local Charities

Charity jobsLocal charities generally conduct extremely valuable work on minimal resources, providing services that would be greatly missed by local communities. Examples of local charities include The Hunslet Club and Gipton Supported Independent Living (GIPSIL).

Working for local charities requires real dedication to the cause and consistently creative problem solving to overcome barriers. With very small charities, there is often an ‘all hands on deck’ culture where everyone mucks in and does a bit of everything. Funding for paid roles in small charities are limited, however, there is plenty of room for autonomy and often flexitime/working from home is allowed.

“Wish there were more hours in the day and I had a younger body to maintain the level of work needed!” – Founding Trustee of small, Leeds charity for supporting families


charity jobsRegional charities can be standalone, or a local arm of a wider organisation such as Groundwork or Mind. Branches like these are independent charities run by local people, but are affiliated to the larger organisation – for example, Leeds Mind is responsible for its own funding and services, but shares the same principles and ethos as the wider Mind charity. Often in this situation, the main charity raises awareness and leads campaigns, but the regional/local branches provide the help and support directly to the service users. National charities such as Cancer Research UK and The Alzheimer’s Society are the household names of the UK Third Sector.

“We truly do put our service users first and I am proud to be able to build on that and continue to improve the service with them in mind” – Online Community Manager for National Dementia Charity



NGO jobsInternational Organisations and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) work across the globe, often tackling issues such as Human Rights and Peace building, amongst others.  Examples of this type of organisation are Oxfam and Rainforest Alliance. International charities are large scale strategic operations and are dealing with billions of pounds per year. Despite the tremendous amounts of practical work that goes on, these organisations require extensive administrative and strategic support, so there are plenty of office-based opportunities that don’t involve travel.

“I love knowing that we are making a positive difference in our field” – Marketing Officer for International Health Charity 

Social Enterprise

social enterprise jobsSocial Enterprises are businesses with a social purpose; so they make money which is given back to the community in some form. There are a variety of different organisation types that are based on this principle, including Community Interest Company (CIC), Co-operative and Social Business. There are slight differences in their governance but the general principle is based on making money for good. Examples of Social Enterprises are Bounce Back and The Enterprise Foundation.

I love that my business solves a problem for my community” – Leeds Entrepreneur for a social enterprise that helps the homeless 

Emma Bennett is a charity Trustee and Volunteer Coordinator for a Leeds Supplementary School, Charity Blogger, and a former researcher & administrator for Voluntary Action Leeds and Young Lives Leeds. She writes and works in digital for High Speed Training, who provide online safeguarding and personal development courses. @emm_benn
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