Voluntary Sector


Further Information

The Voluntary and Community Sector is known by many names, including the voluntary sector, the third sector, non-profit sector, the charity sector.

It’s made up of over 195,000 registered charities plus a large number of unregistered non-profit organisations, associations and community groups. These range from small groups with no paid staff to larger household-name charities with thousands of paid staff such as Barnados, Help the Aged and Oxfam, for example.

The voluntary sector makes an important contribution to the British economy and society, and delivers important services including social and healthcare, youth work, cultural heritage and the arts.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) is the umbrella body for the voluntary sector in England. If you're thinking of working for a voluntary organisation, you might find the Guidestar website useful, as it holds information on all registered charities in England and Wales. 

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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