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Starting Your Career as a Fundraiser

You’re currently working as an agent for the local branch of an insurance firm. You took the job upon the suggestion of your friend who works for the company’s marketing department. She and your new colleagues have been very supportive of you, showing you the ropes and giving you tips on how to be a successful sales agent.

After giving it a try for the past six months, you’re finding that it doesn’t seem to be the job for you. You thanked your friend but informed her that you are now exploring other job opportunities. You have a degree in communications, and you want to put that to good use. Your goal is to take on the role of a professional fundraiser. What will it take to join charity organizations or companies doing fundraising?

An Overview of Fundraiser as a Profession

The job of a fundraiser is quietly on the rise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that there is a 9% projected increase in the number of jobs from 2018-28. The number of jobs in 2018 was at 95,400. The median salary is just below $57,000 annually.

Becoming a Fundraiser

The main job of a fundraiser is to raise money. This is typically done through events or campaigns where the target audience is asked to give donations, whether in cash or in-kind. It can be for a short-term goal, like to build a new wing for a public hospital. Or it can be for a long-term or continuous cause, like lowering greenhouse gases. Here are a few more things you need to know when pursuing a career in fundraising:


  1. Education. You need to have at least a bachelor’s degree. While there are no prescribed academic requirements, those with a background in journalism and communications often form part of the long list of candidates for interviews. A background in public relations and business is also useful, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  2. Be passionate. Check yourself. How much are you willing to commit to this job? You don’t only need to be excited about the task of raising funds; you need to be passionate about the cause you’re championing. Do you care about children and education? Or are you an eco-warrior who wants to save the planet? These are the kind of self-reflection that you need to do.
  3. Get your foot in the door and network. Your ideal position might not be the one on the table, but if it’s the right organization, you might consider taking it even if it’s a simple entry-level position. Once you’re in, build a network and get to know as many key people as you can. People who can connect you with other people.
  4. Learning and sourcing. You need to be familiar with the overall landscape of raising funds. Not only do you need to know in some level of detail the cause you are trying to generate support for, but you must also know how corporate givers and foundations operate. Find out the profiles of companies that donate to charitable causes. What is their fiscal year, and when do they make their budgets? These are essential facts that have a direct impact on the timing of your funding request. Read and learn about trends on gift-giving.

As you progress your way up on this career path, you need to be in tune with what’s happening in the industry and how national and international policies impact initiatives that require donations. You can seek more information, but these critical ideas are good to have on your checklist.

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