Finding your first fundraising role
Are you considering a career in Fundraising? Well, you should!
Fundraising is an exciting and varied career path. Though it could initially seem a little confusing, a quick look at fundraising jobs and the uninitiated will find themselves bombarded with a bunch of industry buzz-words Community, Corporate, Direct, Events, Individual Giving, Legacy, Major Donor, Statutory, Trusts and Grants. Don’t be too baffled and Fear not, CharityJob has some helpful advice on landing that first role in Fundraising.
If you’re taking your first steps into the fundraising world, you may be under the impression that the job is rattling the donation tin on the high street. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth, as stated above you can see exactly how diverse the profession can be. That said, street fundraising can be a route into the job, especially if you’re still a student. A good performance in street, or face to face fundraising can allow you to move onto more specialised and high value fundraising roles in the same organisation.
Think about your skills and experience
We’ll assume you have some understanding of what fundraising is, your job will be to raise money for (or possibly on behalf) of a charity. This could be from individuals, but also business, trusts or even revenue generated from events. As there are many different types of fundraising, you should think about what skills you have developed through work or education. If you have experience in sales, marketing, PR or business development you are well grounded for a career in fundraising and should look to career-shift into the sector by making your skills relevant. This may seem like a long-shot, but fundraisers can be very difficult for charities to recruit and they are increasingly looking outside of the established sector.
Furthermore, you should to tie-in your experience with the type of fundraising you’re pursing, though you must do your research as to what the job involves! For instance, if you’ve worked in corporate or business to business sales, you may want to look at corporate or major donor fundraising. Account management could lend itself to individual giving. An experienced copywriter would be at home writing grant applications and someone with marketing experience may be well suited to an events or direct fundraising role.
How to approach it without work experience
If you’re are recent graduate, or don’t have a lot of work experience your approach will have to be a little different. Sometimes, charities can be guilty of requiring unrealistic levels of experience, especially for fundraising. Largely because the sector used to exist in its own universe. This is no longer the case, but the more desirable jobs still require years of experience. So, you’ll want to look for entry level positions, internships or graduate schemes, you may even look at starting as a volunteer. These (in general) are the roles you are going to have to approach, as no charity is going to put someone without experience into a high value role, you may have to manage your expectations for your first job.
Take a look at the kind of roles recruiters mark as graduate/entry level and you’ll see the kind of choice open to you. There are some face to face positions, these are almost always available and require little to no experience; it might not be glamorous but is a valid way into the profession. Some are graduate or trainee positions, with these you want to bear in mind that the charity is looking for adaptability over experience, essentially looking to mold someone into the role, creativity and enthusiasm count more than what you’ve done for these positions! There are also fundraising assistant, or fundraising admin jobs where you’ll be working in the fundraising department, but not necessarily working with actual donors, do well here and you could move up into fundraising proper. There is also the possibility of pursuing a volunteer role with the intention of turning it into a paid position somewhere down the line. Often the expectation here is that you will work on a voluntary basis and will be offered a paid role depending on your performance, and if the funding is available to the charity. We have written separately about this, check out our guide here. Though this will vary from organisation to organisation.
Be clued up
There are a few other things you can do as well, volunteering, courses and generally keeping up to date with the world of fundraising can keep you a cut above the rest and help you land that job. The most recognised fundraising courses are provided by none other than the IOF, take a look here for what they offer, you might want to consider becoming a member. Volunteering is great way to show your dedication to the sector, and even to the type of charity you want to work for, check out all our volunteer roles here. The IOF, NCVO and CharityJob are a great way of keeping up with the sector.
For the latest and greatest fundraising jobs, check out the CharityJob jobs site! And our blog for further career advice. Don’t forget to sign up to CharityConnect the sector’s largest network, where you can connect with likeminded individuals. Try the fundraising, or charity careers sub groups.