Entry Level Guide To Entering Fundraising

You want to work in a job with purpose.

You want the opportunity to tell good stories, interact with good people and leave the world a better place than you found it. You’ve been thinking about it: you want to be a fundraiser.

The only problem is – you don’t know where to start.

The world of fundraising is incredibly diverse – there are a range of styles (from event management to grant writing) and the job titles are often confusing (are coordinators, officers and executives the same thing?). There’s a huge number of resources out there with a world of information – from the Institute of Fundraising to the Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration – but none of it seems to be designed for you.

We’ve all been there. Like you we’ve wondered where to start – what organisation we might want to work for and in what role, where it might lead and what we need to do to get there. We’ve got you covered – what follows is a no-nonsense guide to the world of professional fundraising, written by a number of young fundraisers keen to see you join the sector.

The different income streams

The biggest problem of starting a career in fundraising is knowing what type of fundraising you want to do. A recent article on Fundraising UK stated there is “an infinite number of types of fundraising”, so we’ve focused on a core number of mainstream forms of fundraising – including community, events, corporates, trusts and foundations, individual giving, major gifts, legacy and digital. Unless you work for an incredibly small organisation, you’re likely going to have to specialise in one or two types of fundraising almost immediately. Here’s our guide to what the areas actually look like in practice:

WHAT DO DIFFERENT AREAS OF FUNDRAISING LOOK LIKE?

The difference in day jobs

Now you know what each of the areas involves, you’re likely to have a shortlist of the ones you’d actually consider. It’s time to look at the nitty gritty – what do job descriptions look like, what does the average person in each of these areas earn to start with, and where can it take you? We’ve done the research so you don’t have to.

WHAT DO DAY JOBS IN EACH OF THOSE AREAS LOOK LIKE AND PAY?

The five year plan

You’ve decided the style of fundraising you’d like to pursue initially, but you’re not sure where this first job can take you. With all of your lecturers and parents talking about “five year plans”, you want to be sure this is the right step for you. The paths fundraising can take you in are many and varied, so we’ve compiled a guide on the options you could be looking at in five years time:

WHAT DO CAREERS IN FUNDRAISING LOOK LIKE?

The sector dictionary

Every sector is full of jargon, and the fundraising sector is no different – with references to stewardship, RoI, CRMs and “relationship fundraising” filling most job descriptions. We’ve got you covered with our guide to the most commonly used acronyms and concepts in fundraising:

JARGON BUSTING – WHAT EVEN IS STEWARDSHIP, ETC?

Getting your foot in the door

You know where you want to be this year and have a vague idea of where you might want to be in five. You know the lingo, now you just need to get the interviews; but how? Where should you be looking, and how do you get there? Our guide has you covered.

HOW DO I GET A JOB IN THE CHARITY SECTOR?

Next steps

You’ve worked out what type of fundraiser you want to be, got to grips with the key concepts and secured your first role. Where do you go from here? The number of resources available to help you with your career progression are endless – but some are a bit more entry-level friendly than others. Here’s our final guide:

WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE?

If there are any other parts to the guide you’d like to see; get in touch with me here and I’ll see what I can do! Otherwise, I hope you find it useful for planning your next steps of your career!

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