I know some of you were hoping to find volunteering experience or paid roles this summer in order to research and start a career in the charity sector. Because of the covid-19 crisis many charities have had to stop their volunteering activities and therefore students and graduates are wondering what to do next. I recently attended an alumni event with regards to the charity sector and this is what I found out about the current state of the sector and some excellent tips and advice about finding voluntary experience this summer or beyond.
The current state of the charity sector
As with many sectors during this crisis, the current situation is uncertain. As a sector which is dependent on funding and fundraising efforts, particularly smaller charities without reserves have been hard hit, and some may not survive. Many charities have frozen their recruitment and staff have been furloughed.
Most likely we will see charities merging to reduce costs and charities are collaborating with others that have a common purpose. New needed skills and new jobs may come out of this, therefore it is important to stay updated on what is happening in the sector. Larger charities will most likely do better than smaller charities. NHS charities are currently growing.
There are still volunteering and job roles out there. For paid roles, charityjob.co.uk is a main site. The main advice is that if you find it challenging to find a volunteering or paid role in the charity sector now, consider what skills are needed to work in the charity sector and build up your skills portfolio for when the job market opens again. More roles will be available again in the future!
How to find work and voluntary experience in the charity sector this summer
- For general job links, check our Careers in non-profit sector help guide.
- There are still paid and voluntary roles within charities in healthcare, in support for elderly and the vulnerable. If your health allows it, these types of roles will give you lots of transferable skills that you can use when applying for graduate roles further down the line. See our blog post - immediate temporary work opportunities and our help-sheet on Careers in the non-profit sector for ideas of job links and careers resources.
- If you are interested in virtual volunteering, bear in mind that many smaller charities operate with just a couple of staff members or without paid staff, these charities may welcome virtual volunteers more than larger charities.
- Before offering virtual volunteering by speculative email, have a look at their social media; what are their doing right now? What is important to know about the charity? Pitch your email accordingly. Here is some advice on how to write a speculative cover letter, which you can put in a body of an email.
- Think out of the box! Be creative. Keep in touch with charities and if you have any ideas of what you can do for them, tell them about it.
- Most importantly, believe in yourself and reach out to people, you never know what may come out of it.
What other activities can you do to increase your chances of finding a job in the charity sector?
- Online networking – this is an excellent time to connect with alumni or people working in charities you are interested in. It can get lonely working from home, this is a good time to reach out to people to ask about their roles and organisations. You may be surprised that many people will be happy to do a virtual meeting on Zoom, for example, compared to before Covid-19, where they may have been too busy to arrange a face to face meeting.
- Skills development – we have several suggestions on MyFuture, such as the UN Volunteering Scheme, Inside Sherpa and more. You may also want to see if you can find some good online courses on Futurelearn, for example, covering anything from fundraising to increasing your digital skills.
My message to you is to keep learning, connect with charities, offer your experience where you can. Don’t stop applying, keep motivated and contact us if you would like further support. In addition, have a look at our Careers in the non-profit sector helpsheet for further links and resources to learn more about this exciting and rewarding sector.