You’ve decided the style of fundraising you’d like to pursue initially, and you know what the entry level roles might look like, 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 and ten years time.
What does a career in fundraising look like after 5 years?
You might be promoted internally:
“Back in 2013, I joined the Manchester RAG committee in my second year of uni, then in summer 2014 I interned at Hope for Children. I spent my third year as vice-chair of RAG before returning to Hope for Children as a staff member on the student fundraising team! I’m still here today and now manage student, community and event fundraisingVicky Wallace, Fundraising Manager at Hope for Children
Now, every day starts with a cup of tea, and the similarities end there! I could be on the phone to supporters, pitching for new partnerships, training our volunteers, or looking after the budget – to name just a few things! There always seems to be emails to answer though… What’s new?”
Or be head-hunted elsewhere:
“I joined the East African Playgrounds team in 2015, working as their challenges officer. After two years, I was promoted to work as their challenges & corporate manager, building relationships from scratch. Then in April of this year I moved to a new charity entirely, Rays of Sunshine, to work in their corporate department and build up my experience elsewhere.Andy King, Partnerships Manager at Rays of Sunshine
I spend my time looking after our high value supporters – including Deutsche Bank, Jupiter Hotels and the Foresters Friendly Society – and am learning a huge amount about how these larger companies operate and support causes.”
Or move into supporting other charities’ in their efforts:
“When I graduated, I was really lucky to secure a place on the Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy Fellowship programme in Dorset. After a year in the countryside, I came back to London as Development Manager for Spitalfields Music, an amazing organisation that helped me grow in many ways. Then in August 2018, I joined the Foundation for Social Improvement (FSI) as Senior Project Manager – a very different but amazingly challenging role.Lindsay Harrod, Senior Project Manager at the Foundation for Social Improvement
My role at the FSI is super varied – one day I could be delivering training on corporate partnerships in Edinburgh, the next coordinating speakers for our Fundraising Conferences. There’s a lot of relationship building involved though, which I love.”
And what about in 10 years time? You’ll notice that career paths don’t always work as planned in the long run, but that there’s still huge variety in what you could be doing, such as…
Heading up a department:
“I started my journey as volunteer raising money for school children effected by historic earthquake in Kashmir, later working an organisation helping people suffering from cataracts in developing countries. Here I am, ten years in the sector working for an orphan charity helping orphans realising their full potential in their lives through my work as head of major gifts.Ikhlaq Hussein, Head of Major Gifts at Orphans in Need
My main advice from my journey is this. If you want a job which doesn’t feel like a job, if you want a career where you turn your skills into changing the world for good for millions of people around the world, if you want a job where everyday is different and you are excited to get out of your bed every morning then you should seriously consider becoming a fundraiser.”
Or heading up a charity:
“I never set out to be a fundraiser or work in the charity sector even, but I became very personally motivated after visiting a non profit in Kenya when I was 11. I’ve been passionate about development since and working in small charities means fundraising has always been a major part of my role – but my journey was unintentional.Vic Hancock-Fell, UK Director of Raising Futures Kenya
After 12 years in the sector,I’m now the UK Director of Raising Futures Kenya. Day to day I’m managing a mix of fundraising, programmes and all the other admin that keeps a charity running. I’ll be working alone or together with some of my amazing team members in the U.K. and Kenya, volunteers or Trustees. As part of a very small team I’m responsible for high level strategic work (which I love) and day to day lower level work (don’t love so much but has to be done). It’s challenging but always interesting with a lot of variety.
Or even breaking into consultancy work:
I’ve been in events fundraising, corporate fundraising, then back to events fundraising again – I took a break to focus on monitoring and evaluation – which led back to fundraising via bid writing. After an unexpected redundancy, I packaged up my experience and started working freelance.I’m now the part time fundraising manager for a small organisation whilst building a consultancy business.Chris Richardson-Wright, Lead Consultant at Air Balloon Consulting
As a freelancer, I love that every day can look different. I’m most creative first thing, so I often spend morning working on new projects. In afternoons I work on research, policy or writing proposals. If I’m not at my desk I’m meeting clients. I’m normally working with 2 or 3 charities at a time, which provides an amazing amount of variety and exposure to new ideas.
The main thing to know at this stage is that career plans very rarely work out the way you expect them to, and the world of fundraising is incredibly varied and exciting – there’s more than enough to keep you in the world of fundraising for years to come, and plenty of steps to take along the way!
The next part of the Entry Level Guide to Entering Fundraising, decoding the jargon of the fundraising sector, is available here.