Fundraisers are the money-makers of the charity world. These guys work on behalf of charities, NGOs, foundations, hospices, community groups and not-for-profit organisations.
They use a variety of strategies and methods in their quest to solicit donations from companies, wealthy benefactors, trusts, foundations and members of the public.
Essentially, the primary aim of a fundraiser is to raise as much money as possible for their charity. This line of work isn’t about shaking a bucket of coins outside a train station; it’s all about building relationships, organising events and coming up with new and innovative ideas for how to capture the minds and hearts of potential philanthropists.
Fundraisers obtain money from numerous sources. For instance, if you enter this profession, you might be organising fundraising schemes and events, such as door-to-door collections, lotteries, auctions, raffles, sporting events and summer balls.
Alternatively, you might focus your efforts on charming wealthy patrons, or establishing links with the corporate social responsibility departments of major companies.
To thrive in this line of work, you will need to be driven, ambitious, confident and tenacious. To a certain extent, salespeople and charity fundraisers have a lot in common, except for the fact that fundraisers are acting on behalf of a worthy cause.
It’s common to specialise in a specific type of fundraising, such as corporate fundraising, community fundraising, major gifts, legacy fundraising, events or trusts.
Large and medium-sized organisations may employ more than one fundraiser in each specialist area, while smaller, local charities may employ one or two people who will work across the full gamut of fundraising activities.
Fundraising is all about strategy, organisation, research, marketing, administration and inspiration. You’ll need excellent communication skills and the ability to work with colleagues from other departments, such as marketing and volunteer management.
Salary & benefits
Starting salaries for fundraisers in the early stages of their careers range from £15,000 to £25,000 per annum, while senior fundraisers can earn between £25,000 and £35,000. Fundraising managers can earn up to £70,000 a year.
Fundraisers tend to work between seven and ten hours a day. However, if you have to attend fundraising events, you may also have to work some evenings and weekends from time to time.
Other aspects of the job might involve frequent travel, as you may need to create networking opportunities anywhere at anytime.
Fundraising careers are open to anyone, irrespective of their academic qualifications. The most important requirement is for candidates to have relevant fundraising experience, either through previous full-time employment or substantial voluntary work .
However, this area of work is very competitive, so obtaining a strong undergraduate degree (2:2 minimum) is highly recommended.
If you’re entering the profession fresh out of university, your first step may be working as a fundraising assistant.
Prior work experience in other sectors, such as advertising, marketing and PR, events management, finance, media and sales, is acceptable if you don’t have charity-specific experience.
Training & progression
Most of the training you’ll receive as a fundraiser will be done whilst on the job under the supervision of experienced colleagues.
However, some regulatory bodies and organisations do offer training courses for fundraisers, such as the Institute of Fundraising.
Some universities also offer niche postgraduate courses which relate to charity fundraising.
As fundraisers progress in their careers, they tend to specialise in a particular area of the industry, such as corporate or major gift fundraising. Other fundraisers may move laterally into other functional areas of the third sector, such as marketing, campaigns and communications.
Alternatively, you could move into the private sector and take a role in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) department of a major commercial organisation.