How to Progress Your Fundraising Career

4 minute read

Do you want to improve your fundraising skills, work for a particular cause, earn more money, or take on more responsibility? Whatever your reason for wanting to take the next step in your fundraising career, the great news is that there are more opportunities than ever before.

With record numbers of roles available, fundraisers have never been in higher demand, meaning now’s the perfect time to make the move. Here’s how looking for a new role can help you to progress your fundraising career.

Plan your fundraising career path

Before you make a move, it’s a good idea to have at least a rough idea of your fundraising career path. You don’t have to have every future role mapped out, but at least knowing the main things you hope to gain can help to point you in the direction of the right next move. Do you want to try out another type of fundraising? Plug a gap in your skillset? Or maybe you want to move into a leadership position?

Even if you’re looking to move back into fundraising after a break, knowing your strengths and weaknesses, and any gaps you may need to fill, can help to give you direction. The Chartered Institute of Fundraising have some great resources to help you audit your experience and plan where and how you want to develop. Have a look at their Competence Framework.

Man looking thoughtful holding a pen in one hand and a tablet in the other

If you want to move into a different type of fundraising…

Maybe you’re currently in direct marketing but fancy getting into events? Or perhaps you’re aiming for major gifts fundraising, but to get there you need experience of individual giving first. If you want to move to a new area of fundraising, now’s the time to make it happen.

Right now, you have the best chance of making a strategic or sideways move, as there’s so many roles available in the sector. Making a tactical move, as in taking a job specifically to gain new skills rather than it being your end goal, is a clever strategy for ambitious fundraisers who are keen to climb the career ladder.

If you want to grow your skills…

Do you have access to enough learning and development opportunities in your current role? If not, then you could consider looking for a new one. While competition for top fundraising talent is high, many charities are improving their training and development offer to entice the best candidates, meaning this is something you can negotiate on.

So if you’re not getting what you need from your current role, moving charities might just give you access to training to develop your skills for the long-term.

Also, the pandemic has been a catalyst for an explosion in useful online learning opportunities, such as webinars. These can be useful to further your sector knowledge—try JustGiving or Charity Digital to start—or why not check out some of our low-cost courses?

A man and a woman sitting looking at a laptop

If you want to move to the next rung in the ladder…

Feel ready to move up? Opportunities for promotion in charities don’t come up as often as you might like them to. Unfortunately, non-profits often aren’t in a position to create a new role just to keep someone good. So, if you want to progress your fundraising career, you’ll likely need to go somewhere new.

But the good news is that job-hopping to get up the ladder doesn’t have the stigma it used to have, and there are plenty of opportunities out there. Candidates are scarce at the moment, especially in fundraising, so competition is at its lowest. So, if you think you’ve got what it takes for the next role up, then we say go for it. There’s never been a better time!

If you’re keen, but a promotion still feels like a bit of a stretch at the moment, then why not look for a mentor to help guide you? You could put a call out on CharityConnect, or join one of our networking events to help find a good match.

If you want to move into a management, or senior management role…

We know it can be hard to get that break for your first line management role. But with low competition in the market, at the moment it’s more likely that you can negotiate any requirement for previous management experience into an offer of training. Don’t forget that it’s especially useful to build up your network when moving into management. You might also find that applying for a trustee role could help you gain managerial experience.

If senior management is one of your fundraiser career goals, then you’ll probably find that working for a few different causes and sizes of charity will stand you in good stead. The more of an overview of the sector and its opportunities and challenges you can gain, the better position you’ll be in. So now could be a great time to try out somewhere new.

Find a career with meaning

If you want a new challenge…

Why not target one of the new roles that have emerged over the last few years if you’re looking for something completely new to fuel your love for fundraising? The pandemic has accelerated the rise of digital fundraising roles, where money is raised primarily through social media or new digital platforms via initiatives such as Gaming for Good. Or if you’re creative and brimming with ideas for new ways to bring in funds, then you could try a role in innovation.

Now is the perfect time

There are loads of reasons to target a new role to progress your fundraising career and now is the perfect time to do it. Even if you’re simply after a pay rise, better benefits or more flexible working conditions, applying for a new role could be the solution. In the current market, there’s everything to play for—so now’s the time to make the leap!

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