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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
|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.
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 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 about fundraising certification, visit