Fundraising is a fantastically rewarding yet complex and wide-spread field of work. When you’re researching what areas of expertise might suit your skill set and interest you the most it can be hard to find succinct and useful information to help guide your decision.
Below I’ve produced a short summary of the main streams within Fundraising looking at the differentiating factors of each and how certain skill sets might be better suited to one than the other. This should be a useful starting point to help you narrow down and pin point the area and specialism that will be most suited to you.
Community / Regional Fundraising
Summary: Raising funds from the community including; individuals, volunteer groups, committees, schools, Scouts etc. Includes mass participation events such as coffee mornings and sporting/challenge events such as Race For Life, London Marathon and overseas challenges.
Key skills: Positive, enthusiastic and engaging personality, ability to build relationship with people of all ages, highly organised about getting in touch regularly, articulate.
Typical activity: Supporting fundraisers to run their own events, visiting groups and speaking about the cause, organising cheering stations at sporting events, attending committee meetings, working closely with other fundraisers to co-ordinate regional activities and partnerships
Summary: There are many types of corporate fundraising including sponsorship, employee fundraising, donations, charity of the year adoptions, strategic partnerships, gifts in kind, payroll giving and cause related marketing. In larger charities teams are often split into business development and account management or into agency style account teams.
Key skills: Sales, relationship management, rapport building, proposal writing, pitching, negotiation, creativity, ability to inspire and engage.
Typical activities: Pitching for a big partnership, writing proposals, account management meetings, liaising with colleagues to gather project information, calling prospective supporters.
TIP – Sales professionals and account managers from the commercial worlds have a very similar skillset. Setting up and supporting corporate fundraising relationships can be complex so to overcome objections in interviews read Corporate Fundraising by Valerie Morton and do an internship.
Summary: A broad area in itself which can include direct mail, face to face fundraising, telephone fundraising, legacies (people leaving donations in their Will) and giving in memory of someone or in celebration and supporter services, (thanking donors and processing donations).
Key skills: Attention to detail, project management, numeracy, ability to write well, database management, relationship building, analytical.
Typical activities: Briefing an agency to create a direct marketing appeal, proofreading an appeal letter, segmenting the database, processing donations.
TIP – Direct marketing managers from the commercial sector will have a well matched skill set whilst fulfilment managers would be well matched for supporter services.
Major Donor Fundraising
Summary: Building relationships with high net worth individuals to engage them in the charity and secure substantial donations, usually £10k
Key skills: Influencing and building rapport with people from all sorts of backgrounds, engaging donors, excellent judgement, search skills, organisational skills, understanding of how charities and projects work.
Typical activity: Working closely with CEO or Trustees to plan donor visits, writing a Case for Support, planning cultivation events, researching potential donors, writing project update reports for donors.
TIP – People with experience working with high net worth individuals such as wealth management professionals can transfer very well in major donors, as will people with an understanding of philanthropy.
Summary: Organising events to raise funds and awareness including balls, gala dinners, premieres, auctions, lectures, art exhibitions etc. Also involves working with committees who are running their own special event.
Key skills: Event management, ability to build relationships with volunteers, highly organised, sales skills to secure support and prizes, creativity.
Typical activity: Organising a ball from start to finish including recruiting a committee, designing the event, selling tickets, securing free prizes and entertainment and running the event on the night.
Summary: Applying for funds from statutory bodies and some larger funders such as Big Lottery Fund.
Key skills: Research, attention to detail, budget planning, engaging colleagues to gather information, planning, writing in a concise and engaging manner, report writing, relationship building with funders.
Typical activity: Meeting colleagues to plan projects and applications, attending events run by funders, pulling together budgets, writing detailed applications.
Trusts & Foundations
Summary: Applying in writing to trusts and foundations for funding for particular projects or general activities, reporting on those activities and building relationships with trusts.
Key skills: Excellent written skills, good attention to detail including budgeting, ability to build good internal relationships to gather information, highly organised, research skills, ability to build relationships with funders.
Typical activity: Researching potential funders using databases, gathering and packaging project information from colleagues, completing detailed application forms, showing potential funders around a project.
Carla Miller is Managing Director at the specialist recruitment consultancy Charity People, where she also recruits senior fundraisers on behalf of some of the biggest and smallest charities in the UK. Carla has worked in the charity sector as a fundraiser since 1998 and has held Fundraising & Marketing Director roles at a number of national charities. She’s also a qualified career coach and specialises in coaching people who want to work in roles that make a difference.