The finding is contained in a survey that reveals the charity sector has taken over from more traditional careers as a popular choice for university leavers.
High Fliers Research, which quizzed more than 16,000 final-year students at approximately 30 universities in the UK, found that 8.6 per cent of graduates want to move into the sector, compared with 8 per cent last year.
That places the sector closely behind teaching, the media, marketing and investment banking as the most popular choices for graduates.
"It is surprising," said survey director Sally Hyman. "Student debt is at its highest, yet people are opting for jobs that are not going to pay them a lot of money."
She added that the survey, which comes as students finish their final exams, revealed that many graduates want to work for socially responsible employers.
Deborah Allen, recruitment consultant at Charity Action Recruitment, has seen an increase in the number of graduates wanting to work in charity.
"You will find a lot of students volunteering or taking a gap year, which seems to inspire them," she said. "We even see people with high-quality qualifications desperate to get into the sector, taking jobs such as basic administration."
A spokesman for Recruitment Exhibitions said more charities than ever before would be attending its recruitment fair in October.
Oxfam and Cancer Research UK are among charities that offer unpaid internships for graduates.