Securing Your First Role in Corporate Fundraising

Published: 30 Oct 2014 By Carla Miller

Carla Miller, Managing Director at the recruitment consultancy Charity People, started her fundraising career as a corporate fundraiser before progressing to become a Fundraising & Marketing Director. Below, she shares with us some tips below on how to secure your first role in corporate fundraising.


Securing your first role in Corporate Fundraising

Corporate fundraising focuses on relationships between charities and their corporate partners.  They’re called partners because this relationship is often a two way street with the company receiving a business benefit from the relationships in exchange for their support -whether that be from improved employee morale to piggybacking on the goodwill associated with a charity’s brand.  

There are many types of corporate fundraising including sponsorship of a particular event or materials, employee fundraising, donations towards a particular project, charity of the year adoptions, gifts in kind, payroll giving and cause related marketing where a donation is given for each product purchased.   

We have seen a growing number of corporate fundraising roles, particularly at larger charities, focusing on strategic partnerships which go beyond fundraising and leverage the assets of both partners to deliver services and raise awareness.  One example is this partnership between WWF and Coca Cola.  In summary, corporate fundraising is a really interesting area of fundraising and one which is varied and increasingly sophisticated in its approach.  


Typical roles

The sorts of roles you might see as a corporate fundraiser include:

Director of Corporate Partnerships (£50k+)

Head of Corporate Partnerships (£40k+)

Head of Account Management (£40k+)

Head of Business Development (£40k+)

Account Managers/Business Development Managers (£30k+)

Account Execs/Business Development Execs/Corporate Fundraising Officer (£25k+)


Transitioning from the commercial world

If you’re looking to transition into corporate fundraising from the commercial world, any experience you have in sales, account management, business development, rapport building, pitching, marketing, PR and strategic partnerships will be valuable. Look for opportunities to understand how companies and charities work together so you can see how those skills and your knowledge can be applied in this different context.  Charities can, understandably, be quite risk averse in their recruitment so you need to demonstrate not only that your skills are transferable but that you understand that there will also be a learning curve for you around how charities operate internally and how charity-corporate partnerships work.  If you can get hands-on experience of such partnerships from involvement in your company’s CSR programme or a strategic volunteering opportunity through organisations like our sister company Career Volunteer that can help you to overcome any objections.  Becoming a Trustee can also give a fantastic insight into how charities work with companies behind the scenes. Larger charities in particular are open to commercial candidates as they have the capacity to absorb and train such candidates and are often quite commercial in their approach to fundraising.


Entry level roles

If you’re looking for an entry level role in corporate partnerships try and gain a good grounding in marketing, sales, PR or CSR, ideally in an agency where you could get exposure to a number of different types of companies and will learn some core transferable skills around business development, pitching and account management.  Volunteering can be also a great way into those roles.  Larger charities will have more entry level corporate fundraising roles so sign up to job alerts for the charities that you’d like to work for and keep an eye out for opportunities. 

As with any career move, understanding as much as you can about your desired profession makes all the difference.  Read ‘Corporate Fundraising’ by Valerie Norton, read Third Sector articles on corporate partnerships and UK Fundraising news, sit down for a coffee with anyone you know who works in corporate fundraising and ask them how they developed their career and what their working day looks like.  Find out from them and general research which partnerships and corporate partnerships teams people in the sector admire and why and what makes a successful partnership.  

Carla Miller, Managing Director at the recruitment consultancy Charity People -who have been matching talented people with life-changing jobs in inspirational charities since 1990.


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