How to Build Up a Career in Fundraising
To the average person, the word ‘fundraiser’ conjures up a range of different things–from street bucket collections for specific causes, through collaborating with high-profile donors, all the way through to charity event organisation. In reality, the job is even broader and more varied than this.
Put simply, the aim of charity fundraising is to raise money for an organisation by acquiring donations. The great news is that the fundraising profession is perhaps the most in-demand in the charity sector, which means that even in the current pandemic climate, there are many job opportunities available.
Here’s how to build up a career in fundraising that will give you a great CV and the confidence to go after the jobs you have always wanted.
1. Never stop learning
Many employers talk about having a ‘growth mindset’ which essentially means being open to any learning opportunities that crop up.
If you’re early on in your fundraising career, try to keep your skillset as broad as possible. When you start in your first role, working with other teams can help you to get an idea of what else you need to learn to seek advancements. Ask your line manager whether you could shadow your colleagues or support them with their projects when they need extra hands.
The other option that is always available to you is to self-educate. Charity Digital provides a number of courses in the area of digital fundraising which is a skillset that has been increasingly in demand. We also encourage you to look at the fundraising courses on the CharityJob website as well as those provided by the Chartered Institute of Fundraising.
There are so many aspects to this career path that it would be hard to learn them all. But the more that you know about each, the better prepared you’ll be for your future career.
2. Get to know the sector
People don’t stay in the same job until they retire anymore. The job market is fluid and employers expect you to change it up, even if they don’t like losing good employees. Never feel stuck in your current job if it is not fulfilling you.
If you have an idea of where you would like to end up in your fundraising career, work each day on that goal. We’ve already covered how to upskill yourself in various areas of fundraising. But it’s worth going a step further and exploring trends in the sector.
Recent research has shown that around 62% of European charities, including those in the UK, plan to increase their focus on digital fundraising channels going forward. And digital fundraisers are not likely to disappear in the post-Covid world. In fact, we’re anticipating the rise of ‘hybrid’ events featuring both in-person and digital elements in the future.
If you’re applying for new positions, read the latest on fundraising sector news and trends and be prepared to address these at interview. Employers love nothing better than a candidate who is forward-thinking.
3. Choose a cause you’re passionate about
There are not many other careers where personal passion is more important to long-term success. If you’re planning to move to a new role or are seeking to move up the ladder at your current job, you‘re unlikely to get hired without demonstrating genuine passion. So be sure to select your cause wisely.
4. Work to your strengths
While it’s good to learn a broad range of fundraising skills, you might naturally find that there’s an area of your role that you particularly enjoy. If you’re really good at planning special events and feel that you struggle more with corporate giving, this gives you an idea of the area that you might wish to pursue.
If you are looking for a new job, you might look to specialise in a given area. This is often the best way to grow in your career. Being able to specify in some of the more complicated portions of the fundraising process can help you to grow into the roles that you have always preferred.
5. Hone your digital skills
As we’ve mentioned already, the world of fundraising is increasingly moving into the digital sphere.
This means that you need to get confident and comfortable with social media if you want to grow in your fundraising career. So much outreach is done via social media these days and it’s easy to see why. For a start, its immediate and offers up bite-sized interactions that can lead to meaningful donor relationships.
Other digital skills that you might look to develop include editing video clips and images, creating and editing virtual giving platforms, organising virtual events and webinars. There are many online tutorials that can help.
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Create your own roadmap to success
Growing in your fundraising career is about commitment to diversifying yourself and to learning about your strengths. There is no clear roadmap to success in this line of work, but that doesn’t matter if you are willing to create one for yourself. And if you’re looking for the next step in your career, why not take a look at some of the latest fundraising jobs on our site?
Gabe Nelson is a content specialist of over 7 years of experience, currently working with iwrecruiters.com. He has a passion and keen understanding when it comes to the HR and recruitment industry. He has written hundreds of content pieces in numerous niches. Currently, he lives in Missouri with his wife and kids.