What does it really mean to be a fundraiser?

People in the workplace

Guest Bloggers | 10 October 2017

We all know that fundraisers come in all shapes and sizes. What it really means to be one is quite variable really, depending on where and on what a fundraiser is working.

They could be working for an agency, or be a long-standing member of staff; they might work for a large multinational organisation, or a small local charity. 

We can say with some certainty that fundraisers are in it for the cause. Our own research shows that a staggering 76% of candidates search for jobs based on the cause an organisation supports. Some may fall into the job, but that’s the case in any profession. The experience of being a fundraiser also very much depends on the type of fundraising, and there are many kinds. Whether it’s community, corporate, direct, events, individual giving, legacy, major donor or trusts. I’m sure most of you reading this know the ins and outs, but if you’re looking to get into the profession, our introduction is a good place to start.


Is fundraising just another job?

So, for some fundraising can be just a job, for sure, or a way into the charity sector. But for the most part, especially those who have long careers in this rewarding profession, fundraising is certainly more than just a job. Lizzi Hollis, the corporate partnerships manager at St Mungo’s explains this attitude in a great post on CharityConnect. She explains how she started through student campaigning, but goes on to say just why so many fundraisers find their careers so fulfilling “fundraising isn’t something we do, it’s who we are.”

For many, it is a chance to serve a cause close to their heart, or even just raise money outside of a profit motivated atmosphere. All charities are fighting for a cause, for fundraisers their job is actively creating the change they would like to see.

There may be some entrenched perceptions among the general public regarding what fundraisers actually do, but without them, no charity could exist.  Perceptions and disapprovals are often put aside in place of personal passion. Once again Lizzie explains this perfectly:

“The reasons people take certain jobs are endless; necessity, ambition, skills etc but there is one fundamental underlying reason that we become fundraisers – we want to make a difference in the world.”


Practically, what does it mean though?

Well, if you’re an experienced fundraiser, I’m sure you’ll have your own opinion here. Ultimately it means generating revenue for charity or not-for-profit organisations so they can keep operating. In a way, for those peeking in from outside the sector, it is very similar to a sales or marketing role. David Burgess, the director of Apollo Fundraising, explains in a fascinating post, just what fundraising is and isn’t. What is particularly unique about his approach (though perhaps not too unique for some of you out there!) is his view of fundraising as really being like managing an investment.

“You will need to invest time and money before you see a return. Remember – some investments take longer to mature than others. It might be a few years before you see a return. You need to be clear about the risks, and what a successful return on investment looks like for your organisation.

Ultimately, fundraising really means whatever the fundraiser wants it to mean. They’re likely to have a strong attachment to their cause and keep at the job, despite any negatives. What does fundraising mean to you? Let us know on CharityConnect or search for your new job on CharityJob.

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