Nonprofit organizations are always in need of funding. Fundraisers are the professionals who work in-house or for consulting firms to raise money for these organizations. They participate in the fundraising process in its entirety, from doing the initial research into potential donors and devising strategies to implementing and coordinating the campaigns and events. Often, fundraisers are responsible for creating printed or digital promotional materials as well as reaching out to prospective donors.
In addition to planning events and campaigns, fundraisers are responsible for tying up loose ends. They have to keep records of donors to consult for future campaigns, assess the success of campaigns to guide future strategies and report fundraising activities as required by law.
More than half of all fundraisers work for religious, grantmaking, civic or professional organizations, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Others find employment in education, healthcare and social assistance organizations. Some of the specialties in the field include annual campaign, capital campaign, direct-mailing, events, major gifts and planned-giving fundraisers.
If you want to pursue a career in fundraising, you will need a college degree. Among the most popular programs of study for aspiring fundraisers are business, communications, public relations, journalism or English, according to the BLS. Certain institutions now offer bachelor’s degree programs specifically in fundraising or philanthropic studies. Whichever major you choose, studying subjects like marketing, grant proposals, annual campaigns, planned giving and major gifts can help you build a strong educational background to draw on in your work as a professional fundraiser.
In addition to earning a formal education, you will need past experience volunteering, interning or working for a nonprofit charitable organization to make your résumé appealing to prospective employers. If your volunteer, internship or professional work allows you the opportunity to interact with potential donors directly, the experience is especially valuable in preparing you for a fundraiser role.
Depending on your employer, it might be necessary for you to register with your state’s government as a “charitable soliciting organization,” especially if you indent to work as a private consultant, according to the BLS. Once you have some work experience under your belt, you might also want to boost your qualifications by earning the Certified Fund Raising Executive credentials.
Fundraisers earn a median salary of $50,680 per year, according to the BLS. Professionals working in educational services tend to earn the highest annual salaries, with a median of $55,940. The job outlook for this profession is positive, with the BLS anticipating opportunities increase by 17 percent over just a decade. Jobs should be particularly plentiful among employers such as political campaigns and colleges and universities. Candidates with a background in working for nonprofit organizations, grant making and using social media for fundraising may see the best opportunities.
Fundraisers are the business professionals who devise and coordinate fundraising campaigns and events on behalf of nonprofit charities and organizations. A career in professional fundraising is especially well-suited to candidates who are good leaders and communicators and are well-organized when dealing with the details of an event or campaign strategy.