Fund-raisers do more than ask for donations

Charities want professionals to deal with their donors. By Meg Carter

Raising funds for a good cause is becoming an appealing career option for a growing number of people eager to "put something back" into society.

But to be a successful fund-raiser takes more than good intentions. As competition in the voluntary sector grows, it's not just traditional charities that need fund-raisers. A growing number of arts institutions, community organisations, political parties, hospitals and schools now have charitable wings employing specialists to raise money on their behalf.

Meanwhile, the ways in which charitable organisations encourage donors to part with their money are becoming more sophisticated. That is why an activity barely recognised as a "proper job" just 20 years ago is fast becoming acknowledged as a profession in its own right.

"Fund-raising is a means to an end," says Louise Engelman, director of training at the Institute of Charity Fundraising Managers, which introduced Britain's first charity fund- raising qualification last year. "A fund-raiser brings together a donor and a recipient. He or she is a facilitator, and the best fund-raisers bring together these two parties in the most effective - and profitable - way."

The ICFM, whose 2,500 members span big-name charities such as the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, community organisations, independent schools and hospital trusts, is also developing best practice within the sector through awards that will be presented during its annual conference.

Most fund-raisers move into the voluntary sector from commercial business. But a growing number are now joining the voluntary sector straight from university, Ms Engelman says. "If people are moving into fund-raising from other disciplines, such as marketing or IT, they will certainly need to understand the nature of fund-raising and the role it has to play." This is because there is no straight comparison between fund-raising and, say, marketing or sales, which is where the ICFM's qualification comes in.

To succeed in fund-raising you must have a number of core skills irrespective of whether it's your first or second career. These include good communications skills, persuasiveness, strategic thinking, self-motivation, organisational ability - both in managing tasks and co-ordinating an often unpaid volunteer workforce. IT knowledge is also an advantage as data analysis plays a growing role in fund-raising.

"More specific qualifications depend on the area of fund-raising you go into and whether you become a fund-raiser or a fund-raising manager," says Sue Douthwaite, director of fund-raising appointments at recruitment specialist CA Appointments.

Join a larger organisation and you are more likely to specialise; fund- raisers in smaller organisations are likely to take on greater responsibility sooner and be expected to be multi-skilled. Good corporate fund-raisers tend to have direct experience of working in the private sector - a commercial background provides a greater awareness of the appropriate language to use when dealing with corporate donors and an understanding of hierarchies is essential to target and reach the right decision- maker within an organisation.

"Corporate fund-raising is about more than asking companies for a donation," Douthwaite adds. "Increasingly, charities are working in partnership with commercial organisations to raise money in a variety of ways. This means tapping into more than just a company's philanthropic budget: charities are benefiting from their donors' sales, marketing and even staff training budgets."

Career fund-raiser and consultant Valerie Morton - who became a fund- raiser on completing an economics degree from Durham University 21 years ago - believes one of the single most important qualities for successful fund-raising is creativity. "It's a competitive marketplace, but not in the sense that we are all fighting each other for a slice of a static cake," she explains.

Each year, a small number of graduates are taken on to training schemes run by the largest charities. The majority of fund-raisers, however, get a foot in the door by being able to demonstrate clearly how they can contribute. "Be clear about exactly what you can offer and focus on your practical skills - not just a desire to `do good'," Douthwaite advises. "Demonstrate a commitment to the sector by already being involved in voluntary work. Consider a course. Read up on the sector and understand what makes it work. And tailor your CV: accentuate your achievements and what you have delivered to previous employers."

No-one becomes a fund-raiser for personal financial gain - starting salaries are, on average, around pounds 14,000, although this figure can rise to around pounds 22,000 if team management is involved. But fund-raisers must be financially astute, commercially aware and pragmatic. "You have a target one year and, if you meet it, everyone will pat you on the back, say thank you and then double it: that's just they way it goes," Engelman says. "It's tough," she adds, "but that's the way it is."

For more information contact the ICFM (tel: 0171-627 3436).

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
people
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Carlton Senior Appointments: Private Banking Manager - Intl Bank - Los Angeles

$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer – Office...

Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advisor – Ind Advisory Firm

$125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Finance Manager

Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Sheridan Maine: Regulatory Reporting Accountant

Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick