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What starting salary can I expect as a graduate working for a charity?

Unpaid volunteering roles are common in the charity and not-for-profit sector, but there are plenty of paid graduate roles in charities too.

If you're applying for roles in the charity sector, you'll find that salaries vary considerably depending upon the organisation that you're are applying to. Your salary will also depend on factors such as location. However, you're also likely to find that salaries are lower than those in the commercial and public sectors.

It may take some time before you're earning over £20,000 – so this is a career choice best suited to graduates who care more about the value and the impact of their work than the salary they will receive.

Your salary will also depend on factors such as location. Jobs in London may be awarded some additional living allowance, but this depends on the individual charity. A number of charities have international positions – and £15,000 will get you considerably further in some countries outside of the UK.

Charity graduate scheme salaries

A limited number of charities run specific schemes for graduates.

  • Cancer Research UK's graduate programme offers a range of different schemes and an annual salary of around £25,000.
  • Charityworks runs a graduate scheme featuring placements in charities and organisations including the NSPCC, Age UK and the National Housing Federation. The programme runs for a year, for which graduates will be paid in the region of £18,800 outside London and £21,600 within London.
  • Frontline is a two-year graduate scheme that focuses on social work and leadership. You'll work on social work placements while studying for a management qualification. In your first year, your costs are covered by a bursary, exempt from tax and national insurance, of £18,000 (or £20,000 for those in London). In your second year, by which time you'll be a qualified social worker, you will earn between £25,000 and £35,000.
  • IntoUniversity is a charity that encourages young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to go to university. It also runs a two-year graduate scheme, which has previously offered a salary of £22,000 outside London and £23,000 in London.
  • Teach First is a charity that runs a two-year leadership development scheme based around teaching. In your first year, you'll be paid at least £19,739. This salary will increase in your second year, although the exact payment will depend on where the school is.
  • The Wellcome Trust runs a two-year graduate development programme in which you'll work alongside experienced professionals in areas including policy, funding and operations. Graduates are paid £26,000 for the first year and £27,500 for the second year.
  • Worthwhile runs a graduate scheme offering placements in small charities alongside training and personal development. You'll be paid the living wage, or the London living wage if your placement is based in London. Some of the organisations involved pay more.

Charity direct entry roles

Charities that don't hire graduates onto specific schemes will still have entry-level roles that are suitable if you've just left university. The salaries for these vary widely based on the job and its location.

In an entry-level assistant role in charity administration, you're likely to earn around £15,000 to £20,000 (possibly more in London). Salaries for more responsible roles such as membership coordinator, development executive or marketing officer tend to be around £25,000 to £30,000, and earnings increase for those in senior and strategic roles.

Are any charity internships paid?

If you've looked into a career in the charity and not-for-profit sector, you may have already realised that experience is essential. Internships are one way to get this, and a small number are paid. Others will refund your expenses or may offer part-time working arrangements so that you can combine your internship with paid work.

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