I'm raising money for a cause I care about, but I need your help to reach my goal! Please become a supporter to follow my progress and share with your friends.
Fundraising is vital to the health and survival of nonprofits, charitable organizations, political parties, nonprofessional sports teams, and educational institutions. You may not realize, however, that the individuals raising those funds aren’t always volunteers.
That’s right—many nonprofit organizations have paid staff. If you have good people skills and a passion for a particular cause, dust off your resume—you might be the perfect fit for a career in fundraising.
Below, we will outline the top fundraising career opportunities in 2023, as well as the skills and experiences you need to land the job.
No matter the type, nonprofit organizations strive to make a difference in the world—but they can’t do that without proper funding. Depending on the size and nature of the organization, the following positions may be available.
Fundraising consultants typically work as freelancers or as part of a consulting agency rather than as direct hires of an organization. Consultants analyze what organizations are already doing and offer new strategies for building donor enthusiasm, reaching new audiences, and filing legal paperwork when nonprofits expand into new markets.
Fundraising consultants usually specialize, focusing on political campaigns, nonprofits, peer-to-peer fundraising, high-end events, and other niches. They can also help organizations identify major donors through prospect research.
Development directors oversee the entire fundraising program of an organization. They often manage teams consisting of other positions on this list. Duties include developing fundraising ideas and building donor relationships.
Event planners iron out the details of galas, dinners, auctions, exhibitions, and other events. Their duties include budgeting, communication with vendors and service providers, securing sponsorships, and promoting the events being organized.
Major gifts officers build relationships with individuals and foundations with the end goal of soliciting large donations—“major gifts.” A key duty is to communicate with the donor to understand their philanthropic goals.
The duties of the corporate relations officer are similar to those of the major gifts officer, but they focus on building relationships with corporations and foundations rather than individuals.
The duties of the donor relations manager overlap with those of the major gifts officer discussed above. However, donor relations aren’t limited to large donors—they work to build relationships with even the smallest donors, expressing appreciation and keeping them informed.
Today, many donations are solicited online. Digital fundraising managers run online campaigns, often using social media posts and ads as well as email campaigns.
Many organizations are funded by grants. In order to obtain a grant, many pages of paperwork must be filled out and submitted. The process often takes weeks or months, and an artist’s touch is required to craft compelling responses.
Large organizations that apply for multiple grants each year may hire in-house grant writers. Others work for grant writing agencies or as freelancers.
Direct mail managers create targeted mailing lists, compose compelling text, and design visual assets for letters and postcards.
Telefundraisers make phone calls to the public in order to explain their organization’s mission, promote awareness, and solicit funds.
No specific schooling or degree is required to work in fundraising, but extensive experience is. Applicants should have highly developed communication and interpersonal skills, including persuasive writing. They should have proficient office and computer skills and be adept at using the internet and other sources to conduct research.
Many organizations look for applicants with extensive fundraising experience. You can gain said experience by volunteering with local organizations or completing internships.
Some fundraising professionals work as freelancers rather than employees of a single organization. If this is the case for you, you will still need to create a resume highlighting your credentials and a portfolio of past projects. Then you must market yourself. LinkedIn is a good place to start, as is a personal website.
Clients will then contact you with a request for proposal (RFP) outlining their needs and expectations. In turn, you will need to prepare a proposal. The turn-around time should be short, no more than two weeks. If selected, you will then perform the necessary work until the project is completed.
For either avenue, networking is important. Attend industry and fundraising events. Reach out to organization members by email or on LinkedIn. Volunteer with organizations you care about. When a position opens up, active volunteers may be the first candidates to be given consideration.
Many positions are available within the field of fundraising. Whether you are passionate about your political party, religion, non-professional sports team, environmental organization, or social nonprofit, there is probably an ideal position waiting for you.
Ready your resume, highlighting your communication and technological skills. Get stuck in and gain experience through volunteering with organizations you care about. You’ll soon be on the road to a meaningful and fulfilling career that can make a positive difference in the world.