There are two main types of professional fundraisers—commercial and nonprofit. The skills required for both paths are similar. Commercial fundraisers work for a corporation that specializes in helping others to raise funds. Nonprofit fundraisers, however, work directly for a nonprofit organization and collaborate with board members and upper management to establish fundraising goals and create strategies to accomplish these goals.
Fundraisers may use social media to promote a crowdsourcing initiative, plan an event such as a 5K race or silent auction, recruit corporate sponsors to match individual donations, or ask current donors to increase their monthly pledge. In addition to soliciting funds, fundraisers must have an understanding of charitable giving regulations in order to address questions and concerns from potential donors.
Nonprofit fundraisers might coordinate efforts with corporate fundraisers in certain situations. Keeping a charity financially operational requires a great deal of flexibility and resourcefulness.
A Day in the Life of a Nonprofit Fundraiser
A typical day for a nonprofit fundraiser may include event planning, generating unique fundraising ideas, obtaining corporate sponsorships, communicating with donors, grant writing, and monitoring online fundraising efforts. The job requires creativity, organization, interpersonal skills, and marketing. A fundraiser’s work schedule is not always the same from week to week, due to meetings and special events that must be attended.
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The salary for nonprofit fundraisers varies depending on job title. Most employers offer standard benefits packages. It’s important to keep in mind that board members of nonprofit organizations tend to cap the salaries of employees so that more of the funds they raise can be channeled directly to the charitable cause. Visit Salary.com for more information regarding salary and benefits for fundraising directors and salary and benefits for fundraising managers.
In the field of fundraising, experience is more important than advanced degrees. However, higher education can open doors to new opportunities. A Master of Public Administration program may include a field experience component that allows candidates to gain fundraising contacts and experience. Degrees in marketing or public relations may also be helpful.
Challenges and Opportunities
Perhaps the biggest challenge in fundraising for nonprofits is trying to persuade potential donors to contribute financially. Despite the looser laws surrounding charitable giving, there are also regulatory requirements that must be met.
Although it can be a challenging career, fundraising can help advance a specific cause and make a positive difference in the world, which can provide job satisfaction that many careers cannot. There are also opportunities to interact with people from all walks of life, to be creative, and to experience variety in the workplace.
The internet has changed the way fundraisers operate. At one time, the wealthy were the primary donors to charitable causes. Today, crowdsourcing allows those who would not be considered wealthy to pool their smaller donations together to fund charitable projects. Other trends in the industry include the use of social media to promote charities and the use of cell phones to donate via text message. Access career outlook information for fundraising managers and directors by visiting the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.
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