Getting ahead in fundraising


The most important thing you need to have to get ahead, is that you need to be really good at what you do.

And here’s the other thing: unless you’re one of those lucky few who have a natural talent that doesn’t need nurturing, practising or developing, then you’re going to need to work to harness your gut instinct and talent to be really good at what you do and build a successful career.


Here are the things that could help you make that next step on the ladder that bit easier!

Careers checklist image 11. It’s not just what you do, it’s how you do it

Attitude, work ethic and the way you behave in the office are just as important as the job you do. This is a small sector, and the people who get ahead are rarely the people found gossiping over the water cooler. Be the person that your boss would re-employ not relocate. Support your manager, embrace challenge, change and remember that even if you don’t agree with decisions made, the way you handle working in tricky situations can often define you (and that’s not to say don’t challenge, it’s the way you challenge and the aftermath of challenge that I’m talking about!).


Careers checklist image 22. Don't be a slave to your job description

Take on extra responsibility, additional areas of work or volunteer for project groups. The people who get ahead have never uttered the words ‘that’s not in my job description’.

Additional work might be a pain - but in reality, pushing to ‘step up’ outside of your remit will not only impress your boss but most importantly give you valuable experience that you can use to get your next step ahead. You’re far more likely to get the next level of job up if you’re doing half of it already!

Take on maternity covers, sick leave covers, offer to step up, if you see your boss overloaded, offer to help. You might not agree with everything your boss does, but you can learn something from everyone so be proactive in seeking direction.


Careers checklist image 33. Take charge of your own learning

One of the things that is a definite in the fundraising sector – your own learning is your own responsibility. Most of the time budgets are tight so it might seem impossible to develop your skills right? Wrong.

Be proactive and take control of your personal development. It doesn’t need to cost a penny. There are literally thousands of articles, case studies, books, blogs and online conference sessions/webinars out there - make it your business to take some in! If there’s someone you admire in the sector, reach out and ask them if they have time for a coffee, most will be receptive to this kind of proactivity. Some of the best learning people have done has been for free. But it’s taken time. Invest in yourself. It will pay off!


Careers checklist image 44. Look up and out

Make sure you take time to look outside of the sector for inspiration and innovation. There are some fantastic talks, articles and blogs on all sorts of topics that with a bit of thought can be relevant to the fundraising world. 

Customer Service, Relationship building, Psychology, Change Management, Strategy – the list is endless! Just copying what other charities are doing is ok, but it’s never going to give you anything new to talk about in that job interview.


Download the careers checklist PDF