Make your fundraising career flourish
If you’re already established in a fundraising career, you may be in a position to think about your next move. Whether you’re at the start of your career or experienced, whether you’re a face to face fundraiser or deal with corporate sponsorships, these essential tips from CharityJob could help you progress your fundraising career.
Learn more, gain a qualification
It may be the case that you’ve learnt on the job so far, but a great way to make your CV standout is to take an industry-recognised course. The IoF offers professionally recognised qualifications and short courses throughout the year, and CharityJob has a brand new courses area with a broad offering to choose from. Outside of specific fundraising qualifications, there are courses available up to degree/MA-level in management, civil society and finance which may give you an advantage towards the senior end of a fundraising career. This is an industry where experience counts so make sure you also learn as much as possible from each job.
Look for opportunities internally
Particularly at management level, but really in any position with sits above entry level, you should always be looking for opportunities to progress and develop. This may mean going the extra mile, expanding your work in areas you may not be expected to cover. It certainly means having a robust knowledge of both your cause and your donors — the job, after all, is to connect the two. We know fundraising contracts can be short term, so make the most of all the experience you get during each role. If your experience is mostly in the management of fundraising teams (in an events or community settings for example) you may want to learn database management and data presentation skills, which may be expected of you in different career paths. If you’re all about digital, you may want to build on skills aimed at negotiating with donors in person; the idea should be to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Network: keep in contact with your contacts
Make sure you keep in contact with everyone relevant throughout your fundraising career. It really could be anyone, from colleagues met early on in your career to managers and mentors. Creating a network of peers and a list of contacts in the sector ensures your options are always open. When you feel it’s time to move on, or you’ve outgrown your current role, this network can be called upon for guidance and advice. It’s a great idea to keep up with the latest happenings in the fundraising world; sign up to be an IoF Member and you'll receive regular sector news updates. CharityConnect has a dedicated group for fundraising where you can keep up to date and where occasionally you’ll see offers for fundraising mentorships. Whatever platform you choose, do try to maintain contact with colleagues and managers.
Always build new skills
One way to progress your career is always to be developing your skills. The further you shift into management levels the more you’re going to need balance multiple roles. Build your creative skills, technical skills, wherever you feel lacking, wherever the gaps are. Volunteering for extra responsibility, new projects and anything that pushes you into new areas will be a great addition to your CV and will always garner opportunities to develop new skills. Make sure you are well versed in all the areas of fundraising, such as major donor, face to face, corporate etc, even if you intend to pursue a career in a particular field it is always worth knowing how your colleagues operate. Additionally, if you’re at a career stage where you are considering applying to roles such as Director of Fundraising or Area Director; then it will be fully expected that you will have a “big picture experience” of fundraising strategy and will be able to manage multiple teams working in numerous areas. So do your homework, learn as much about the industry as you can.
Move up — or sideways
From entry-level roles like door-to-door and face-to-face fundraising, you can look internally for opportunities to move into team leader and management roles, as well as making a lateral move into other areas of fundraising. The right move for you might not be into management; it may be in other areas of fundraising, or a business development role. Availability can be an issue at more senior levels, so while waiting for positions to open up you may want to make a parallel move, instead of pursing a management or senior position, try moving from your area of expertise into something new, such as shifting form community to major donor or corporate fundraising. Always keep an eye out for opportunities to move, or progress, as well as chances to learn and develop through seminars, talks and courses.
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