Things Every First-Time Fundraiser Needs to Know
When you think of jobs in the charity sector, fundraising is probably the first thing that comes to mind. Fundraisers are fundamental to the success of any not-for-profit—they drive donations, draw attention to the cause and build trust and loyalty in the organisation. But it’s more than just that; it’s a calling. A chance to make a difference in the world.
So, let’s say you have the right skills and drive to break into the fundraising industry. How much do you really know about what it takes to succeed in this role? Surely, a little bit of guidance and advice could go a long way, especially when you’re just getting settled in.
Think fundraising may be the right career path for you? Here are at least five things every first-time fundraiser should know.
1. It’s okay to have fun
A job is meant to be serious, right? At least that’s what we’re told when we first start working. But sometimes we’re so concerned with coming across as professional that we forget that it’s okay to enjoy the work we’re doing.
Fundraising has elements of fun, especially when it comes to thinking creatively and challenging yourself to come up with new ways to engage with your donors. Think of it as an adventure, an exciting new landscape you’re discovering one step at a time.
Whether you’re sharing your story with the public, organising a country-wide bake sale or setting up an interactive competition to gain donations, it’s okay (and widely encouraged) to enjoy the work you’re doing, especially because you know all that effort is going towards improving an injustice in the world.
Sure, there’s still an element of professionalism that’s expected in the workplace, but don’t forget that you’re doing this job because you love it, not just because it pays the bills.
2. You’re not alone – you’re part of a community
Just as much as you are putting yourself out there to help others, you’re not expected to do everything on your own. Fundraising is a vast community in the UK, and when you’re just starting out you may be on the hunt for a bit of advice and guidance. That’s where resources like The Institute of Fundraising and CharityConnect come in. They help connect you to your peers; people who have all gone through the same struggles and experiences that you have.
Got some questions during your first few weeks? Your charity will most likely have plenty of resources to help you settle into the role quickly. If none of their ideas suits your personality or working style, you can always propose fresh ideas and convince them to get on board. In fact, they’ll probably quite impressed if you’re pitching new ideas right from the get-go.
3. Just like any other job, there are targets you need to meet
Your job is to find the money that keeps your organisation going, and donation targets are the milestones that help you to reflect on how far you’ve come. If you’re smashing your targets, maybe you need to be a bit more challenged. If you’re falling short, you need to consider your approach—how can you get creative and push yourself to where you need to be? Benchmarks like these help you to find your inner strength and creativity in achieving your mission.
The key to reaching your target is to break it down so that you don’t get overwhelmed. Setting daily or even weekly goals can make the total number seem more manageable. Then, make a list of who to approach and how much you need from them. Before you know it, you’ll be not only reaching but surpassing those goals.
4. There are ALWAYs potential donors to approach
With targets that have to be met, you’ll need to be constantly approaching people. But it’s not just individual donors, private organisations are often interested in giving back and you can always apply for government grants for your charity.
Don’t panic if you don’t know where to begin; start with familiar faces like your friends and families to practise and nail down the best way to really drive your message and get people emotionally invested in your cause. The more you talk to people about your passion, the more confident you’ll become.
Think about the donors as potential investors. They’re willing to listen to your mission and want to know what they can gain from their investment, whether that’s personal satisfaction or some sort of incentive for a corporate donation. The better you become at convincing and persuading them, the more money you’ll raise.
5. You’ll gain a newfound sense of purpose
Ready to find that oh-so-rare sense of fulfilment? One of the best ways to do it is through charity work and helping others. Supporting a cause is one of the fastest ways to feel good about yourself and to feel like you’ve contributed to the development of humanity.
Once you’re stuck into your new fundraising role, we promise you won’t think twice about your decision. You’ll find a new sense of purpose and seeing the results of your hard work will continue to inspire and motive you in ways you never even imagined.
In other words, it’s not as overwhelming as you may think. Once you figure out the right rhythm, you’ll be doing good and helping change the world.
Ready to start giving back by fundraising for a cause that’s close to your heart? Find out what fundraising roles are available in the charity sector today. And download our free fundraising CV template to get started on your application.
Ayoola Bandele is an Executive Assistant in Finance and Operations at Evangelical Alliance, a Christian charity. She's passionate about fundraising and helping others to be the best version of themselves and finding fulfilment in life. She supports causes such as poverty eradication amongst children and widows and promoting the Christian faith. She also runs and regularly updates a blog on Christian faith which supports the spiritual growth of Christians worldwide.