Fundraisers organize events and campaigns to raise money and other kinds of donations for an organization. They also may design promotional materials and increase awareness of an organization’s work, goals, and financial needs.

Duties

Fundraisers typically do the following:

  • Research prospective donors
  • Create a strong fundraising message that appeals to potential donors
  • Identify and contact potential donors
  • Use online platforms to raise donations
  • Organize campaigns or events to solicit donations
  • Maintain records of donor information
  • Evaluate the success of previous fundraising events
  • Train volunteers in fundraising procedures and practices
  • Ensure that all legal reporting requirements are satisfied

Fundraisers plan and oversee campaigns and events to raise money and other kinds of donations for an organization. They ensure that campaigns are effective by researching potential donors and examining records of those who have given in the past.

Fundraisers who work for political campaigns must be knowledgeable about campaign finance laws, such as the contribution limits of an individual giving to a specific candidate.

The following are examples of types of fundraisers:

Annual campaign fundraisers solicit donations once a year for their organization. Many nonprofit organizations have annual giving campaigns.

Capital campaign fundraisers raise money for a specific project, such as the construction of a new building at a university. Capital campaigns also raise money for renovations and the creation or expansion of an endowment.

Major-gifts fundraisers specialize in face-to-face interaction with donors who can give large amounts.

Planned-giving fundraisers solicit donations from those who are looking to pledge money at a future date or in installments over time. These fundraisers must have specialized training in taxes regarding gifts of stocks, bonds, charitable annuities, and real estate bequests in a will.

Work Environment

Fundraisers held about 95,400 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of fundraisers were as follows:

Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 43%
Educational services; state, local, and private 23
Health care and social assistance 16
Arts, entertainment, and recreation 5
Administrative and support services 3

Most fundraisers raise funds for an organization which employs them directly, although some fundraisers work for consulting firms that have many clients.

Fundraisers spend much of their time communicating with other employees and potential donors, either in person, on the phone, or through email.

Some fundraisers may need to travel to locations where fundraising events are held. Events may include charity runs, walks, galas, and dinners.

Work Schedules

Most fundraisers work full time. Some attend fundraising events on nights and weekends, possibly requiring additional hours.

Education and Training

Fundraisers typically need a bachelor’s degree and strong communication and organizational skills. Employers generally prefer candidates who have studied public relations, journalism, communications, English, or business.

Education

Although fundraisers have a variety of academic backgrounds, employers typically prefer a candidate with a bachelor’s degree in public relations, journalism, communications, English, or business. Degrees in other subjects also may be acceptable.

Other Experience

Internships and previous work experience are important in obtaining a paid position as a fundraiser. Many fundraising campaigns rely on volunteers having face-to-face or over-the-phone interaction with potential donors. It is important for the fundraiser who organizes the campaign to have experience with this type of work.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Laws vary by state, but many states require some types of fundraisers to register with a state authority. Check with your state for more information.

Advancement

Fundraisers can advance to fundraising manager positions. However, some manager positions may also require a master’s degree, in addition to years of work experience as a fundraiser.

Personality and Interests

Fundraisers typically have an interest in the Creating, Persuading and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Creating interest area indicates a focus on being original and imaginative, and working with artistic media. The Persuading interest area indicates a focus on influencing, motivating, and selling to other people. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.

If you are not sure whether you have a Creating or Persuading or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as a fundraiser, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

Fundraisers should also possess the following specific qualities:

Communication skills. Fundraisers need impeccable communication skills in order to communicate the message of their organization so that people will make donations.

Detail oriented. Fundraisers must be detail oriented because they deal with large volumes of data, including lists of people’s names and phone numbers, and must comply with state and federal regulations. Failing to do so may result in penalties.

Leadership. Many fundraisers manage large teams of volunteers and must be able to lead them without having the usual incentive of pay at their disposal.

Organizational skills. Fundraisers manage large campaigns and events that require planning and organizational skills to succeed.

Pay

The median annual wage for fundraisers was $57,970 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,530, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $100,410.

In May 2019, the median annual wages for fundraisers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Educational services; state, local, and private $63,090
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional,
and similar organizations
57,750
Administrative and support services 54,970
Arts, entertainment, and recreation 54,600
Healthcare and social assistance 53.440

Most fundraisers work full time. Some attend fundraising events on nights and weekends, possibly requiring additional hours.

Job Outlook

Employment of fundraisers is projected to grow 9 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will be driven by the continued need of nonprofit organizations to collect donations in order to run their operations.

Many nonprofit organizations are focusing on cultivating an online presence and are increasingly using social media for fundraising activities. As a result, social media platforms have created new avenues for fundraisers to connect with potential donors and to spread their organization’s message.

Job Prospects

Job prospects for fundraisers are expected to be good because organizations are always looking to raise more donations. Candidates with internship or volunteer experience in nonprofit and grantmaking organizations should have better job opportunities

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FAQ

Where does this information come from?

The career information above is taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. This excellent resource for occupational data is published by the U.S. Department of Labor every two years. Truity periodically updates our site with information from the BLS database.

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