Everything You Need to Know About Fundraising

5 minute read

A quick look at CharityJob and you’ll see we have a number of different positions, some you might recognise, and others which are more ambiguous. One thing you’ll notice is that quite a few jobs are for fundraising. People inside the charity sector will be well aware of the nitty-gritty of fundraising, however, if your hail from the corporate world, things can seem a little confusing. You may have an image in your head, but fundraising is hardly rattling the donation tin on the high street. Read on to find out exactly what it is a fundraiser does.

So, if you’re looking for a career change into the charity sector and are wondering just what fundraising jobs are all about, then take a look at our introduction, which can help guide you into this exciting career path.

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So what is the job?

Fundraisers generate revenue for a charitable organisation through various means, their contribution is often the only thing keeping a charity functioning as most organisations do not receive any government grants. In order to raise this money, they will approach individual people, corporations, major donors, trusts and foundations as well as doing things like organising events, all in order to raise money for their particular cause. A fundraiser may be concerned with raising awareness for their charity’s cause, but fundamentally the purpose of charity fundraising is to develop and ultimately increase donations from the organisations and individuals they work with.

As digital technology begins to become an important part of the charity sector, fundraisers increasingly need to be creative and to become developers of new ideas in order to seek new donation sources.

There are all these different types of fundraisers, what do they do?

If you’re from outside of the charity sector, then these different types of fundraising careers can seem a little confusing, let’s break it down, there is:

  • Community
  • Corporate
  • Direct
  • Events
  • Individual Giving
  • Legacy
  • Major Donor
  • Trusts (and foundations)

But it is worth remembering that your job may fall between these lines, if you work for a larger charity you may have one of the specific roles above, whilst with a smaller organisation you could have a generic “fundraiser” title.

Community Fundraising

Unsurprisingly, community fundraisers work in the local community. They might be in charge of groups of volunteers or arrange fundraising events within a certain local area. Generally, they will be ensuring that donations and collections from a particular local community are secured and improved. Your job will be to support and secure funding by building positive relationships with the local community after all these are the people who keep the charity running! Depending on the size of the charity this could be anywhere from a smaller group of individuals to companies and even local government.

Corporate Fundraising

Corporate fundraisers will work with businesses in order raise to money, this will often be on the basis of a “corporate partnership” where the aim will be to create cooperation between a for-profit business and charity. So the job of corporate fundraising is nurturing relationships, which will ultimately prove mutually beneficial. The charity will gain income (naturally!) and the company will be associated with the name of the charity, they may get skills or advice. Regular updates as to how the cooperate partner’s money has been spent is often part of the job, they will often want to know exactly what their money has been spent on.

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Direct Fundraising & Individual Giving Fundraising

Direct fundraising, is well… fundraising directly. In many ways, the practice is similar to direct marketing. Direct fundraising if often done through the mail, or via telemarketing, but is increasingly migrating to a digital world where e-mail and social media are replacing traditional methods.  Often direct fundraising can be done door to door or at street level, sometimes this is called individual giving. As well as being sociable and persuasive direct fundraisers will have some knowledge of data and its applications, often needing to be able to manage a donor database as part of their job.

Events Fundraising

Events are an important part of a charity’s calendar, and they can be a great way to raise money. The aim of events fundraising is to arrange events in the name of the charity’s cause and generate income via admittance to or services provided at the events. These events can be anything from a small village fete to the sponsorship of an international sporting competition. It may involve celebrities, be a sponsored “walkathon”… there no set rules, but the aim of events fundraising should be to generate both income, publicity and awareness by organising events in support of a charity’s cause.

Legacy Fundraising

You might have heard this phrase outside of a charity context, a legacy is essentially a gift left in someone’s will, in some circumstances they may have decided to leave a certain amount of money to charity. The job of a legacy fundraiser is to negotiate the legal and administrative task of securing these donations, as well as nurturing ongoing relationships with lifelong supporters in order to suggest a donation is left in their will.  A legacy fundraiser will need to be empathetic, patient and well versed on regulatory issues in order to do their job.

Major Donor Fundraising

Historically charities have often relied on a small number of high net worth individuals who provide large donations in order to form the backbone of their funding. These individuals are often called major donors, the job of the major donor fundraiser is all about creating lasting relationships with people who could be a source of these large donations. The job is both to seek out potential donors, but also nurture ongoing relationships with them in order to secure lasting income. So the job could be divided into research and prospecting as well donor care. Major donor fundraisers are often in high demand, the job requires a candidate to be an excellent communicator and negotiator, as well as being proficient in data and project management.

Everything You Need to Know About Fundraising

Trusts (and foundations) Fundraising

Trusts and foundations are legal entities set up by a group, company or individual who wishes to set aside part of their money specifically for charitable giving. The job of a trusts and foundations fundraiser is to create income from these funds, they need to master the process of formally written applications, which are required by trusts and foundations, writing these funding applications is a skill in itself which is usually developed over a fundraiser’s career. Research is an important part of this type of fundraising, as an application will require a significant amount of research into the trust or foundation, as well as what the charity intends to do with the money. So trusts and foundations roles require candidates with strong writing and research skills, as well as good communication skills to maintain working relationships.

What next?

If you think a fundraising career could be the job for you, then check out our fundraising jobs or why not connect with people already working in the industry via CharityConnect. You might also want to take a look at how you can move into fundraising from the corporate sector.

Sanjay Bheenuck

Content and SEO Lead here at CharityJob. Writer of obscure fiction and global wanderer in my spare time.

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