Effective fundraising is a critical part of successful political campaigns, charitable organizations, community organizations, entrepreneurship, and even scientific research. Virtually any endeavor that needs money needs to engage in fundraising can benefit from hiring a professional fundraiser.
Professional fundraisers can work at many different levels, from designing campaigns to simply following a telephone script.
There are also different types of fundraising, from asking for big donations one-on-one (a process that might take several months of relationship building per donor), to grant writing, to organizing raffles or benefit dinners.
What Skills Do You Need to Be a Fundraiser?
As the name implies, fundraising pertains to using creative ways to raise funds for a worthy cause. The work can be rigorous and closely resemble sales, event planning, and marketing.
Fundraisers are not necessarily required to have any particular academic background, and many get their start working as volunteers for community groups. Masters’ programs in fundraising, however, do exist, and a bachelors’ degree in a relevant field, such as public relations or journalism helps, and may be necessary for some jobs.
For some types of fundraising, detailed legal knowledge may be necessary. In some states, independent fundraisers who work as contractors may have to register accordingly and follow stringent regulations.
Types of Fundraising Skills
It's natural that people who work in fundraising need to have good written and verbal communication skills. It's difficult to convince people to contribute their money to a cause without an excellent pitch. Fundraiser workers should be able to write letters, edit, proofread, and write grant proposals and press releases.
They'll also need to be able to effectively facilitate discussions, inspire confidence and trust in face to face communication, and effectively engage in public speaking.
- Public Speaking
- Oral Communication
- Written Communication
- Grant Writing
- Facilitate Group Discussion
Individuals who work as fundraisers should have a wide range of interpersonal skills. They should practice leadership and assertiveness. They should be able to build relationships with donors and motivate and train volunteers. They should also know how to effectively recognize prospective donors and be persuasive in their dealings with them.
Fundraising employees need to be able to reach out to supporters on social media, as well as properly collect, analyze, and store donor data. Individuals who feel known and recognized by an organization may be more likely to donate. Conversely, sending an unsolicited fundraising call to someone who has already asked to be removed from the list could alienate a potential donor permanently.
Common programs used in fundraising include Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Office, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Microsoft Word, as well as Raiser's Edge, DonorPerfect, and Sumac.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
- Database Management
- Customer Segmentation
- Fundraising Software
- Graphic Design Software
- Presentation Software
- Email Marketing Software
- Microsoft Office Suite
People who fundraise for a living need to be good salespeople. It often entails promoting events effectively, acquiring sponsors for events, developing a salesforce, and securing donations for fundraising raffles. Being a salesperson also includes identifying the selling points for the organization and thinking strategically about the fundraising campaign.
- Business Storytelling
- Value Propositions
- Lead Generation
- Creating and Developing Pitches
- Cold Calling
Fundraiser workers need to exercise good judgment. It means strategic planning, assessing the interests of prospective donors, coordinating logistics for events, and devising budgets for programs and events. This also entails measuring the effectiveness of fundraising initiatives, structuring fundraising campaigns, and structuring mechanisms for online giving. They'll also need to draw consensus regarding goals and conduct research to identify prospects.
- Process Management
- Project Management
- Strategic Planning
- Creating a Mission Statement
- Ongoing Improvement
More Fundraising Skills
- DonorSearch Online Tools
- Double the Donation
- Social Media Management
- Mail Chimp
- MIP Fund Accounting
- Financial Statements
- Building Business Plans
- Customer Service
- Information Management
- Critical Thinking
- Personal Ethics
- Dealing with Objections
- Acquiring Sponsors for Events
- Measuring the Effectiveness of Fundraising Initiatives
- Recruiting Volunteers
- Press Releases
- Public Relations
How to Make Your Skills Stand Out
Add Relevant Skills to Your Resume: Include your most relevant qualifications on your resume to stand out from the crowd.
Highlight Skills in Your Cover Letter: Remember that desired qualifications will vary based on the position for which you're applying. Read the job description carefully and include relevant skills in your cover letter.
Demonstrate Your Commitment: The key to successful fundraising is believing deeply in a cause. While maintaining authenticity, you should demonstrate to potential employers in your interview the level of commitment to the organization’s cause.