The biggest problem of starting a career in fundraising is knowing what type of fundraising you want to do and knowing what that looks like in practice.
A recent article on Fundraising UK stated there might be an “infinite number of types/disciplines of fundraising”, but luckily there are a core number of ‘mainstream’ forms of fundraising – including community, events, corporates, trusts and foundations, individual giving, major gifts, legacy and digital.
Unless you work for an incredibly small organisation, you’re likely going to have to specialise in one or two types of fundraising almost immediately. To help give you an idea of which might be your preferred area, I spoke to a fundraiser in each of these areas, asking them to explain what they do for a day job – here’s what they had to say…
I’m working in legacy giving, or gifts in wills. The role focuses on increasing the interest in legacy giving and encouraging people to leave gifts in their wills, until they becomes pledgers. This means that it covers many aspects of fundraising. The acquisition side can include running direct mail campaigns and phone campaigns, writing marketing material and hosting events, while the stewardship and cultivation side is usually done through face-to-face meetings.Andreas Avram, Legacy Giving Officer, King’s College London
I am a community fundraiser. I focus on helping members of the public organise and throw their own fundraising events which can range from bake sales, gala balls, independent challenge events such as climbing kilimanjaro – I support their fundraising, keep them on track to hit their targets and build relationships with new supporters. I also support many of our events like our Christmas star concert and our funny bones event. I take the lead on organising these events, talking to suppliers, supporting fundraising efforts, and executing the events on the day!Karlie Evans, Community Fundraising Officer, Above and Beyond
I’m a corporate partnerships manager – I look after our business partners to help them raise money from their staff and customers whilst reaping the rewards for their organisation. This ranges from engaging employees with the impact they’ve had to producing content for social media and more. What the partnership looks like varies drastically depending on the business involved, which makes every day a fun challenge.Andy King, Partnerships Manager, East African Playgrounds
I’m an events fundraiser in the Student Market mostly. This involves me engaging students to sign up to challenges and support them with their personal fundraising efforts. Our students host anything from cake sales and pub quizzes to large black tie events in their local communities across the UK and Ireland with our 121 support to help them raise £3000 eachKonna Beeson, Events Fundraiser, Meningitis Research Foundation
I am a Partnerships & Philanthropy Manager for a hospice – meaning I look after Trusts, Corporates and Major Donors. I talk with our internal teams to discover what the needs of the cause are, what we need funding for, and look for the right supporter/s to back that project. It could be from a personal interest, experience or just because they have a belief in our wider cause.
There really isn’t a day-to-day for me, because all individuals are different, but you could see me; at my desk building a fundraising proposal, out at networking events so that I put myself in front of the right people, meeting with potential or existing major donors to build stronger more sustainable relationships planning, executing and attending events to thank our supporters and engage with new supporters. No day is really ever the same!Laura Horton, Partnerships & Philanthropy Manager at Katharine House Hospice
As a Fundraising Manager, I’ve been fortunate to enable individuals to support an organisation. These individuals give gifts ranging from one off donations of £5 to individuals giving a monthly gift of £100. I write appeals to go in magazines, in our newsletters and speak to supporters on the phone. I get to thank supporters and share with the difference their gifts are makingKatie Wade, Fundraising Manager, the Mare and Foal sanctuary
I’m all about digital. I’m all about how we can recreate the social element of in-person giving in the digital world. How we can delight people when they give, not just offer them a bland transactional experience. Digital is all about making something old work in the new world – it doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that.Tom Defraine, Customer Success Manager, JustGiving
I am an Events Fundraising Assistant at the National Autistic Society. My role is varied (which I love), I manage our Great North Run team, provide support to our London Marathon team, as well as heading up our student fundraising programme. Our team also manages our special events like… and some autism friendly events like an autism-friendly showing of Harry Potter: the Cursed Child, so my role has scope for other things.Calum Coker, Events Fundraising Assistant, National Autistic Society
There are, of course, other types of jobs in fundraising – such as database management or prospect researching (finding the people for other fundraisers to approach) – but above are the main kinds of roles you can expect straight out of university. Look for assistant level roles in large organisations or officer/executive/coordinator level roles in smaller charities in the field that interests you most!
The next part of the Graduate Guide to Fundraising goes further into the nitty gritty of what fundraising jobs in each of these sectors might look like; giving sample salary ranges and example job descriptions. You can check that out here.