Fundraising managers are responsible for raising money for charities and non-profit organisations, such as universities. They meet donations targets by approaching members of the public (‘community fundraising’), high value donors, companies, alumni (in the case of universities), trusts and statutory bodies, or supporters leaving a legacy.
Some fundraising managers organise events and some cover a particular geographical area. In larger organisations, roles will be specialised, targeting a specific source of income. In smaller organisations, a fundraising manager is likely to be responsible for several or all sources of potential income.
Depending on the role, a fundraising manager will:
- Recruit, organise and inspire volunteers
- Research fundraising opportunities and write grant applications to charitable trusts or statutory bodies
- Build relationships with major donors or companies and make presentations
- Manage information and record the profile and fundraising activity of donors on a database
- Manage their own budget and ensure that targets are met
- Account handling: ensuring major donors or companies are happy with their donation scheme (such as a charity of the year partnership) and are kept informed of progress and milestones
- Devise and organise fundraising campaigns, events and door to door collections
- Spot fundraising opportunities and raise awareness of the organisation’s work
Fundraising managers need excellent communication skills, both verbal and written. They need to be good at researching and devising strategies and opportunistically taking advantage of donation possibilities. Fundraising managers must be adept at people management, building long-term relationships with potential donors or volunteers and persuasively explaining their charity’s cause. The ability to manage budgets and hit fundraising targets are important, as are organisational and IT skills. An interest in, and commitment to, the cause you are raising money for is essential.
First degrees are often desired. But career qualifications are more sought after. Sector body the Institute of Fundraising awards qualifications such as the Certificate in Fundraising and the Diploma in Fundraising.
A minimum of three years’ experience in fundraising is often required for a fundraising manager, but prior experience in areas such as sales or marketing can act as a substitute. For legacy fundraisers, experience in law or accountancy helps. However, knowledge of the charity sector and the particular cause area you are aiming to work in, is essential. If you don’t already have voluntary sector experience, consider volunteering.
The average salary for a fundraising manager role ranges from around £20,000-£45,000.
The standard 35-40 hours. Occasional evening and weekend working is expected, although time off in lieu is frequently offered. Home-working is common and area fundraisers are expected to drive a lot as part of the job. A car or car allowance is often provided.
- For experienced fundraising managers, becoming a head or director of fundraising is the most natural move
- Specialising and becoming the director of a particular fundraising department within a large charity, heading the corporate fundraising team or individual giving team, for example, is another common step
- A senior fundraising management role is also possible
- A head of fundraising position with a small charity is often more feasible than the same role with a large charity
- A fundraising manager could also move sideways into communications and marketing within the voluntary sector
A fundraising manager’s perspective
“I love the variety that comes with my role which involves juggling multiple fundraising events and projects and focusing my team to raise as much as possible.
“SSAFA provides lifelong support to anyone who is currently serving or has ever served in our armed forces and as an ex soldier, it is important for me to make the public aware of the charity’s work and the impact it has amongst serving personnel, veterans and their families across the UK.
“With the changing economic climate, fundraising managers have had to adapt their approach to become more effective at targeting the right income streams. I am always trying to grow the experience and capabilities of the people I manage and ensure I provide strategic management and leadership in co-ordinating a portfolio of income generating activities.”
Stephen King, head of regional fundraising (North) at SSAFA – the Armed Forces charity.
King offers these tips for aspiring fundraising managers:
- Work hard, but smart - where will the best returns come from?
- Remember that integrity is key – be clear about where money raised will be spent
- Know your audience – understand what messages and materials are likely to be most effective
- Have a compelling case for support and people will want to make a difference - make them aware of the genuine impact they could make
- Try and enjoy it - there is no other job like it in the world!