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.

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

Earning over £20,000 in a charity sector role may take some time – 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.

Jobs in London may be awarded some additional living allowance, but this varies between charities. A number of charities have international positions – and £15,000, for example, 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 masters 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 £34,000.
  • IntoUniversity is a charity that encourages young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to go to university. It runs a two-year graduate scheme which pays £24,000 outside London and £26,000 in London.
  • Teach First is a charity that runs a two-year leadership development scheme based around teaching. In your first year, as an unqualified teacher you'll be paid between £18,419 and £20,532 depending on the age you teach. This will increase in your second year, where you will earn a minimum of £25,714.
  • Wellcome runs a general development graduate programme that lasts two years. You’ll work alongside experienced professionals in areas including policy, funding and operations. Graduates have previously earned £26,000 in the first year rising to £27,500 in the second. The charity also runs a two-year investments programme where graduates learn about investment analysis and financial market. The current salary for this programme is £33,000 in the first year, which is then reviewed in the second year.
  • Worthwhile runs a graduate scheme offering placements in small charities alongside training and personal development. You'll be paid at least the living wage or the London living wage if your placement is based in London. Some of the organisations involved pay more and the highest salary that you could earn is close to £25,000.

The above opportunities are great ways of getting your start in a charity. If you’re ready to apply, start by looking at the current vacancies on targetjobs. Bear in mind that not all charities will widely advertise their schemes. You may also need to head to charity’s own websites.

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 roles with more responsibility such as membership coordinator, development executive or marketing officer tend to be around £25,000 to £30,000, and earnings then 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.

Head over to target jobs to find charity internships .

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