Fundraisers organize events and campaigns to raise money and other donations for an organization. They 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
  • Conduct fundraising strategies for an organization
  • Identify and contact potential donors
  • Organize a campaign or event that will lead to soliciting donations
  • Maintain records of donor information for future use
  • Evaluate the success of previous fundraising events
  • Train volunteers in fundraising procedures and practices
  • Ensure that all legal reporting requirements are satisfied

Fundraisers are responsible for raising money and other kinds of donations for an organization. To accomplish these goals, fundraisers generally plan and oversee campaigns and events. They ensure that campaigns are effective by researching potential donors ahead of time and examining records of those who have given in the past. Many of the organizations that employ fundraisers rely heavily on donations in order to run their operations.

Many states require what they call “charitable soliciting organizations” to register with a state agency. The National Association of State Charity Officials provides advice to charities, as well as links to each state’s charity office. Professional fundraisers who work as private consultants will need to register with the state in which they do business. Fundraisers who work for an organization that engages in fundraising activity will not have to register individually as long as their organization is already registered.

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. More information on federal campaign finance laws can be found at the Federal Election Commission. State laws can be found at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The following are examples of types of fundraisers:

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.

Direct-mailing fundraisers send out requests for donations to large numbers of people through the mail, over the phone, and online.

Events fundraisers obtain donations through charity events, including dinners, auctions, galas, and charity races such as 10Ks.

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.

Work Environment: 

Fundraisers held about 65,700 jobs in 2012. The industries that employed the most fundraisers in 2012 were as follows:

Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 55%
Educational services; state, local, and private 18
Health care and social assistance 14

Fundraisers work primarily for nonprofit charitable organizations, including educational institutions, religious organizations, healthcare foundations, and political campaigns.

Most fundraisers are employed by the organization they raise funds for. Some fundraisers work for consulting firms that work for 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 during regular business hours. Some may work additional hours to meet deadlines. About 1 in 5 worked part time in 2012.

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

Fundraisers often have a variety of academic backgrounds. However, some employers prefer candidates with degrees in business or communications, but bachelor’s degrees in other subjects are usually acceptable.

Several schools offer master’s degree programs in philanthropic studies or fundraising. Requirements to enter such programs are generally based on work or volunteer experience at a nonprofit or grantmaking foundation. Students may take courses in annual campaigns, planned giving, major gifts, grant proposals, and marketing.

In addition to taking relevant coursework, students can gain experience by volunteering at local charities or participating in student-led organizations.

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, so it is important that the fundraiser who organizes the campaign has experience with this type of work.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

CFRE International offers the Certified Fund Raising Executive designation for fundraisers. Certification is voluntary, but fundraisers may obtain it to demonstrate a level of professional competency. Candidates are required to have 5 years of work experience in fundraising, as well as 80 hours of continuing education through both attendance at conferences and classroom instruction. To keep their certification valid, fundraisers must apply for renewal every 3 years.

Advancement

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

Important 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 $50,680 in May 2012. 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 $30,050, and the top 10 percent earned more than $88,010.

In May 2012, the median annual wages for fundraisers in the top three industries in which these workers worked were as follows:

Educational services; state, local, and private $55,940
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional,
and similar organizations
51,100
Health care and social assistance 46,750

Fundraisers generally work full time during regular business hours. Some, however, work under pressure of deadlines and tight schedules, possibly requiring additional hours. About 1 in 5 worked part time in 2012.

Job Outlook: 

Employment of fundraisers is projected to grow 17 percent from 2012 to 2022, 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.

Organizations that will receive less financial support than in the past, such as colleges and universities, will need fundraisers to solicit donations to make up for shortfalls. Political campaigns also will continue to hire fundraisers.

More nonprofit organizations are focusing on cultivating an online presence and are increasingly using social media for fundraising activities. As a result, social media have created a new avenue 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. Although candidates with different backgrounds are often eligible to become a fundraiser, those with experience in nonprofit and grant making industries will have better job opportunities.

For More Information: 

For more information about fundraising certification, visit

CFRE International

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2014–2015 Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh.

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