Charity as a Career

Charity can be a career, a job or a remunerated activity that helps deliver the work of a charity. Here we look at some of the training and qualifications that may help pursue a career  within a charity or across the spectrum of the wider charity industry. Induction, trustee training, professional sub-contractors and volunteering are covered in more detail on other pages.

There are over a million employees of registered charities in England and Wales. This is a significant paid work force augmented by numerous professionals and contractors plus another million trustees and 3.6 million volunteers. These September 2016 figures do not include other workers in  none registered and not for profit organisations.

Perhaps due to the wide variety and nature of charities there is no ‘gold standard’ for working in, managing or charity operational activity. The ‘sit next to Nellie’ approach is very dated and skill development comes from good training. Below are some of the more direct training and career paths that are open to those interested in a charity career.

Qualifications with Professional Links

ICSA Level 4 Certificate in Charity Law and Governance  is an introductory programme that has been developed by the Governance Institute for individuals working in charities

The Diploma in Charity Accounting (DChA)  awarded by the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAEW) to those who can demonstrate a high level of competence in charity accounting and financial management. The qualification recognised commitment to the charity sector specialism and acknowledges expertise at the highest level.

Certificate in Fund Raising Introductory level plus diplomas and International Advanced Diploma teaches you how to create the institutional environment to enable fundraising to flourish – it does not teach fundraising. From the Institute of Fund Raising.

CCAB has five members – ICAEW, ACCA, CIPFA, ICAS and Chartered Accountants Ireland – and provides a forum for the bodies to work together collectively in the public interest on matters affecting the profession and the wider economy. The accountancy profession forms a central part of the professional and business services sector which contributes £166 billion to the economy each year (15% of UK GDP). Diploma in Charity Accounting (available to qualified accountants) or the more intense CIPFA Certificate in Charity Finance & Accountancy.

Cass Business School Voluntary Sector Management course

Courses available in Charity Management

Training From Entry Level

Income generation is crucial for many charities so it is sensible to invest in training. Progressively charities have expanded from shop retail to incorporate merchandising, web sales and various supporter sales and selling.

  • A retail NVQ is a nationally recognised qualification that demonstrates your retail skills. There are no entry requirements and it will take six to nine months to complete.
  • British Heart Foundation, The Red Cross and others sponsor retail NVQs that may be awarded by Corporate College.
  • After a basic NVQ there are four other qualifications you can gain.

Retail Skills and Customer Service  both Level 2

  • This qualification should be taken by people dealing with customers and merchandising. It is intended to help develop, enhance and expand your knowledge of the retail environment. This gives a wider skill base to augment the personality traits and enthusiasm that attracted an individual to this type of work .
  • Working effectively in a team is a key component particularly for larger charities where commitment to the cause is part of work.
  • Training to provide a service to customers, whether they are internal within the charity or members of the public.

Team Leading Level 2

This is not a management qualification but a stepping stone into management and supervisory skills. Provides the opportunity to develop ‘management’ skills including understanding risk, effective communication and staff motivation.

Retail Skills Level 3

Working in the retail environment, or supervising staff, this qualification should be taken by those who are fully trained to deal with targets, commitments, organisational values, operational needs and constraints. It may cover or introduce human resources, health and safety, financial control, IT and other normal business practices.