The Job and What's Involved

Fundraisers raise money for charities and other not-for-profit organisations such as campaigning groups and hospitals.

Employers usually agree targets with their fundraisers, who then use a range of techniques to promote the cause and attract donations.

Fundraisers target potential donors and supporters, including:

Individuals - through methods such as committed giving, big gifts and legacy fundraising (where people agree to leave money to a cause in their wills).

Businesses - including corporate sponsorship.

Communities - through events, and fundraising efforts by clubs and associations.

Other Sources - trusts, foundations and government bodies.

Fundraisers in larger organisations may specialise in one of these target groups, while those working for smaller organisations may be responsible for all of the fundraising activities.

The job may involve:

  • Setting a strategy and deciding on the fundraising methods that stand the best chance of success.
  • Coming up with ideas for fundraising and then carrying them out.
  • Researching charitable trusts and other potential donors.
  • Preparing grant applications.
  • Building and maintaining relationships with donors and potential donors.
  • Producing publicity materials, for example press releases, websites, direct mail, posters and newsletters.
  • Recruiting and organising volunteers.
  • Giving media interviews and making presentations to groups.
  • Preparing reports on the organisation's activities for donors and trustees.

Fundraisers generally work typical office hours of 9.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday. Depending on the role, they may need to attend fundraising events or presentations on some evenings and weekends.

Part-time work and job-sharing may be possible.

The job is generally office-based. Dress depends on the employer and role, but those working closely with major donors are generally required to wear formal business clothes.

A driving licence may be useful, especially for fundraisers who have responsibility for a local area or region.

Fundraisers' salaries start from around £18,000 to £20,000 a year. With more experience, salaries can range from around £23,000 to £40,000.

A fundraiser leading a department in a major charity may earn £60,000 or more.

Salaries tend to be higher in London and the south east.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Around 20,000 people are in paid employment as fundraisers, with a further 50,000 working as volunteers.

Employers are not-for-profit organisations and include:

  • Charities in all fields, from wildlife protection to medical research.
  • Campaigning organisations and pressure groups, such as Greenpeace and CND (the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament).
  • Some universities and schools.
  • Faith-based community organisations.

There are opportunities around the UK. The biggest organisations are based in cities, although many national charities have community fundraising teams.

Fundraising is a growing profession, but entry can be competitive. It is important to demonstrate a genuine commitment to the cause, and some relevant experience may be useful. This may include voluntary work, or being involved in organising a charity event.

Working for a Charity has a voluntary work placement service, and also lists charities and recruitment agencies on its website.

Vacancies may be advertised in national and local press, or on the recruiting organisations' websites. They may also be found in specialist publications such as Professional Fundraising or on websites such as,, and

Education and Training

There is no set entry route. Many fundraisers have degrees, though the right skills and evidence of commitment to the sector are more important than particular qualifications.

A degree in business studies, sales and marketing or a related subject may be an advantage. For a degree, minimum entry requirements are usually at least two A levels and five GCSE's (A*-C), including English and maths, or equivalent.

The Diploma in business, administration and finance may be a useful starting point.

A few major charities, such as Cancer Research UK, offer graduate programme's and have volunteering and internship opportunities. Competition for places is fierce.

Working for a Charity offers a two-evening programme that gives a general overview of the sector and the role of fundraising. It also runs a foundation course for people seeking their first paid job in the voluntary sector. The foundation course combines seven days of seminars with a twenty-day work placement. Both courses take place in London. An online course - Effective Voluntary Sector Management - runs annually, starting in October, and can be studied part time at home.

Fundraising Training Ltd runs a trainee programme aimed at recent graduates or those seeking to enter the sector from another field. Charities taking part in the programme interview short-listed applicants. Successful candidates join their charity on a six-month training contract.

Experience in areas such as marketing, public relations, sales or advertising can be an advantage, providing it is combined with an interest in the sector.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Training is usually on-the-job, but fundraisers are encouraged to keep up to date with new techniques and changes in the sector. Budgets are often tight and fundraisers may need to pay for their own training.

Courses are offered by:

- Working for a Charity
- The Institute of Fundraising
- The Directory of Social Change
- Fundraising Training Ltd

For newcomers to fundraising, Working for a Charity offers a two-day induction course.

The Institute of Fundraising's four-day foundation course in fundraising practice also offers an introduction to the field.

The Institute's Certificate in Fundraising Management is offered part-time and is linked to work-based practice. The two modules of the certificate - fundraising practice and managing fundraising - usually take two to three years to complete. Candidates must be associate members of the Institute before they can be awarded the certificate.

Several universities offer part-time MSc and postgraduate certificate courses in fundraising subjects, many of which also lead to the Certificate in Fundraising Management.

The Institute of Fundraising is the professional membership body for charity fundraisers and offers information on fundraising techniques, best practice in fundraising, and fundraising training and learning.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A fundraiser should be:

  • Enthusiastic.
  • Persuasive and persistent.
  • An excellent communicator, face-to-face, on the phone and in writing.
  • Creative and imaginative.
  • Well-organised and good with figures.
  • Calm under pressure.
  • Resilient when approaches are rejected.
  • Committed to seeing through long-term projects and meeting deadlines.
  • Good at working in a team.
  • Flexible, as some charities cannot afford support staff and expect fundraisers to cover a range of tasks.
  • Aware of the Data Protection Act and privacy regulations when working with databases of donors.

Your Long Term Prospects

Fundraisers working for smaller projects may need to change jobs to advance their careers.

Within larger organisations, there may be the chance of promotion to head of the fundraising department, or fundraising director. It may be possible to move into other areas of management, such as finance or human resources.

Some fundraisers may move into consultancy work, providing services for a range of organisations.

Organisations that operate internationally may offer opportunities to work abroad.

Get Further Information

Directory of Social Change,
24 Stephenson Way,
London NW1 2DP
Tel: 020 7391 4800

Institute of Fundraising,
Park Place, 12 Lawn Lane,
London SW8 1UD
Tel: 020 7840 1000

NCVO (The National Council for Voluntary Organisations),
Regent's Wharf, 8 All Saints Street, London N1 9RL
Tel: 0800 2798 798

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