Producing a great CV for fundraising roles

Published: 24 Mar 2014 By Carla Miller

Producing a great CV for fundraising roles
If you’re looking to move into the fundraising sector, or develop your career within it, then your CV needs to make an immediate strong impact. It only takes a minute or two of reviewing your CV for the reader to decide whether they’d like to find out more about you, so it’s absolutely crucial that the information you present to them is concise, relevant and demonstrates your worth.
General CV Tips
• Ideally it should be no longer that 2 sides of A4
• Use bullet points as much as possible
• You are aiming for at least some white space on the page,  be succinct
• Don’t use text boxes, photos or logos. Keep it simple and uncluttered
• Use a simple, easy to read font e.g. Arial or MS Trebucht
• Separate out each section (or role) by using line breaks or contrasting text e.g. Bold for job titles
• Remember to state your individual achievements, not those of a team or more generally what you were employed to achieve
• If you manage a team, list their job  titles and what you guided them to achieve

Always research the role and organisation thoroughly. Make sure you tailor your CV specifically for each opportunity you apply for.  The aim is to make it really easy for the reader to picture you in that particular role and reassure them that you have all the relevant skills and experience.

Fundraising CV tips
• Always make it clear what your total financial target was in each role and what you achieved – this is one of the key ways the reader will judge your seniority and capability
• Make sure you have plenty of specific fundraising achievements in your CV, whether the % you increased a particular income stream by, the size of the charity of the year partnership or the amount donated by a major donor.  If you can name drop companies that is also reassuring but make sure you are not sharing confidential information.
• If you are new to fundraising, be sure to highlight the transferable skills such as account management, project management and business development and make sure you are using charity language where possible rather than any other industry specific jargon.

Suggested CV Layout
• CV heading
• Skills section
• Experience section
• Education
CV heading
Your name, address and contact details are sufficient.  You may also want to mention if you are a British citizen or have a right to work in the UK.  No need to share your date of birth, marital status, photos etc

Skills section
First you need to understand what roles you are best suited to, which is where both networking within the industry and doing some thorough research into roles available within the sector is important.
Make a list of the skills you’ve think you’ve gained from previous paid employment and any unpaid experience. Think about how these skills might be transferable into the job you are applying for. This means looking at the day to day tasks and challenges that might crop up in your desired role and matching up achievements you’ve made in the past that have obvious similarities.

Experience section
Employers want to know that you understand what will be expected of you and are able to deliver it, particularly if you are new to the sector. 
For example, If I’m recruiting a Direct Marketing Executive I don’t want to know that you’re a ‘creative thinker’- I want to know about the specific advertising campaign you briefed to an agency and project managed, and what the results of that campaign were. Stories like that help me remember you and wonder if you could do the same for my organisation. Make these sort of examples really clear on your CV (and give further example situations in your covering letter).

Not got enough experience?

The sector is always looking for interns and volunteers. If you’re able to show a genuine understanding of the challenges the organisation faces and offer solutions for meeting those challenges then you stand a much better chance of securing employment.  If you’re struggling to find the right intern position then try a smaller charity – they always need practical help, placements can be less restrictive than larger charities and you’ll be able to see the impact of your work.  Vodafone World of Difference can be a great way to get paid to work for a charity.

If you’re looking to move into the sector at a more senior level and need to gain experience before doing so you could consider becoming a Trustee, this is a great way to understand the challenges that charities face and will give you the opportunity to get involved and build up your experience.  Charities often recruit for Trustees on their website or on job websites or if there is a cause you are passionate about why not approach them.  Smaller charities are particularly open to new Trustees who are willing to pitch in with their area of expertise.  It’s important to know that you can’t be a Trustee and work for that charity at the same time. Trustees usually serve at least a year.

Unless you’re fresh out of university the education section of your CV should come at the end. List what you achieved and the year you achieved it in. In general your career history will be more important than your education so you don’t need to go into great detail here. In this section you should also list any training courses you’ve completed if you think they are relevant to the position you are applying for.

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.


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