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Fund-Raiser Job Description, Career as a Fund-Raiser, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training College

Salary Median—$60,259 per year

Employment Outlook Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Professional fund-raisers solicit contributions from corporations and individuals for nonprofit institutions, such as hospitals, colleges and charities, and for politicians running for office. They develop fund-raising drives, organize volunteers to run them, and monitor progress every step of the way. Their most important function is marketing: they must sell the worthiness of their cause, institution, or candidate to a skeptical public. To do so, they must choose the best slogan, write the most compelling speeches and press releases, and prepare memorable videos and television commercials. They often meet with corporate officers, government officials, and community leaders to make their sales pitch.

Fund-raisers work either on a consulting basis or full time for one institution. Consultants often work for firms that specialize in offering this service; sometimes they create their own companies and oversee several small-scale fund drives at the same time. While politicians generally employ consultants for short periods, many colleges and universities, large hospitals, and national charities employ full-time fund-raisers who supervise ongoing campaigns.

These fund-raisers are working on a mass mailing campaign to solicit money for a charity. (© Martha Tabor/Working Images Photographs. Reproduced by permission.)

Besides marketing skills, fund-raisers need managerial skills to direct and inspire those who are soliciting funds and knowledge of finance and tax laws so that they can explain the tax advantages of contributions.

Education and Training Requirements

Most fund-raisers develop their skills as volunteers in fund-raising campaigns. However, most fundraisers have at least bachelor's degrees. College preparatory courses in English, mathematics, social studies, and foreign languages are useful, as are college courses in accounting, business administration, economics, marketing, psychology, speech, and statistics. Some colleges offer courses that relate directly to fund-raising. Professional societies often hold seminars and workshops that explain the latest techniques.

Getting the Job

Job seekers can apply directly to consulting companies that raise funds and to such institutions as hospitals, colleges, and charities. Beginners may start as assistant fund-raisers. Jobs in public relations can be good training, for fund-raising is a closely related field. College placement offices, state and private employment agencies, newspaper classified ads, and job banks on the Internet may list entry-level jobs in fund-raising.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

With experience, workers may become directors of fund-raising programs. Some become the heads of consulting companies or start their own firms. Some seek more challenging positions by taking on fund-raising drives for high-profile organizations.

Employment of fund-raisers is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all jobs through 2014. In some parts of the country—where political campaigns are hotly contested, for example—employment of effective personnel may grow even faster.

Working Conditions

Fund-raisers generally work irregular hours, including nights and weekends. They travel extensively, especially when running national campaigns. They must be able to work well with all kinds of people—from college presidents to volunteers—and thrive under pressure.

Earnings and Benefits

Salaries vary with experience and the complexity of fund-raising campaigns. Those who work in northeastern states tend to earn higher salaries. In 2004, the median salary for fund-raising managers was $60,259 per year. Less experienced fund-raisers usually make from $40,000 to $50,000 per year, while those with many years of experience may earn $90,000 or more per year.

Where to Go for More Information

American Association of Fund-Raising Counsel
4700 W. Lake Ave.
Glenview, IL 60025
(800) 462-2372

Association of Fundraising Professionals
1101 King St., Ste. 700
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 684-0410

Fund-raisers employed by institutions and consulting firms usually receive paid holidays and vacations, health insurance, and pension plans. Self-employed fund-raisers must provide their own benefits.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesLaw and Public Service