Entry Level Guide to Fundraising: Part 5

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.

So how do I find the right role?

  1. Our honest recommendation is to go through a recruitment agent: they offer CV and interview support and will give you an honest opinion about whether you’re right for a role or not. I landed my current (amazing) job through Alice at Charity People, but Dawn at Quarter Five has placed a number of my friends into entry level posts.
  2. Or you can go direct to the charities or organisations themselves. CharityJob lists a huge number of roles that you can filter by area, pay and type of fundraising – or if you’re keen to work for a particular charity, they often have their own job portals – see Clic Sargent’s here, for example.
  3. Finally, you can seek personal recommendation – LinkedIn is the perfect platform for this. Not only can you mark yourself ‘open to opportunities’, you can post and see if anyone has any roles going – I’ve seen a number of peers get placed this way.

Once you’ve found your dream role, it’s time to get your application in shape. We asked some people in the know for their top tips:

‘Have a strong introduction to your CV – 2/3 sentences that set the scene about your skills, your personality and what you are looking for. It’s the first impression that you are giving so make sure it’s true to you and the role you are applying for.
Think about the skills you have in your personal life and if they are relevant to the role you are applying for then add them in – maybe you are great on social media or have taken part in a charities challenge event.’

Dawn Ballard, Quarter Five Recruitment

‘For me its all about transferable skills and work experience. You might not have had the chance to do any ‘proper’ fundraising yet, so you need to consider what skills you have that are relevant for fundraising e.g. public speaking (presentations during their degree), customer service (from working in the campus shop) etc etc. And getting any work experience you can manage – I stayed at uni longer than all my housemates and did a week with the Stroke Association whilst my uni rent was still paid up I had the free time.’ –

Alison Pritchard, Institute of Fundraising

With your CV in shape, you apply. You’ve nailed it. You get to the interview. To help settle your nerves, we asked Dawn her advice for bossing those too:

‘Be prepared! Research the charity really well. Read the JD over again, if they describe themselves as innovative and dynamic think about how you can show that matches who you are. Look at the essential criteria in the job description and turn each bullet point into a question and think about the best experience you have that would demonstrate experience in that area. There will be gaps in experience for every role you go for so if they ask you something that you don’t have experience in, think about how you would go about doing it – you need to show that you want to be able to bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to go.
Soft skills are REALLY important, dress smart, have a strong handshake, make eye contact and try to smile – the interview is as much about your ability to do the job but also will they enjoy having you work with them 7 hours a day!’

Dawn Ballard, Quarter Five Recruitment

But the final thing to note is that you won’t always get your dream role on the first try, and being prepared to bounce back is important. The first role is often the hardest to get.

Here’s what the experts had to say on the matter.

I assumed that having nearly a decade of experience in the corporate sector would make me the ideal candidate for fundraising roles. I soon discovered that moving to the other side of the table was by no means an easy feat.

However, my story has a happy ending and so will yours. If you are passionate about affecting tangible change and are driven by the greater good, then there are no barriers, that you can’t break down. Being unsuccessful in a job application or interview isn’t ‘rejection’ – it is simply a learning curve, bringing you closer toward the role and the charity that’s the right fit for you. Try to think of each ‘failure’ as simply a step in the right direction to that end goal.

Amber Madden, Rays of Sunshine

‘Job hunting is like dating, sometimes it’s not personal it’s just not the right fit. It has to be right for both parties and do trust your own instincts too – if you read the JD and aren’t excited by the role, or go to an interview and don’t feel excited afterwards then chalk that one down to experience and keep looking. The right fit is out there but it’s unlikely you are going to find it straight away. Getting your first role is hard but everyone manages it eventually.’

– Dawn Ballard, Quarter Five.

So stick at it and you’ll get there. From personal experience we can say that recruitment agencies or personal introductions DO make a massive difference, but never be scared to do it ‘the old fashioned way’ and apply direct.

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch, otherwise learn where to go from here now you’ve got the basics covered by checking out the final part of the series (article coming soon)

Alternatively, return to the homepage of the guide to entering fundraising here.

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