Fundraiser  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dotFund-raisers basically raise money for their employers.

dotResponsibilities vary according to the organization and its size. The larger the organization, the more specialized the fund-raiser may be. There are special event fund-raisers, gift giving fund-raisers and those that do all that and more.

Nolan Finn is the senior vice-president in the resource development division of the Sacramento United Way. A major part of his job is to meet with top CEOs in the area and encourage them to be part of his "campaign cabinet."

"I call CEOs and ask them to call other CEOs to start building relationships for us," says Finn. "I have 11 volunteer CEOs in my cabinet. Basically, I manage them. They ask what they have to do in their roles, and I tell them."

Linda Wright says she's a "one-woman do-it-all operation."

"I run the campaigns," she says. "I organize all the special events, like the galas, and coordinate corporate and foundation 'asks.' I get sponsorship for our events, spend a lot of time networking and working with several committees to carry out the events."

dot Wright says there's constant pressure to deliver. "When cash flow is in trouble," she says, "you're the first person they look at."

dotFund-raisers can work for consulting firms, corporations, associations, government, social agencies and other organizations. They may also be self-employed and work on a project-by-project basis.

Fund-raising duties may include developing and implementing strategies, preparing reports, speeches and presentations, organizing special events, and increasing awareness of your cause.

Depending on the size of the company, fund-raisers may be in spacious offices with support staff or in cramped quarters.

"I'm always on the phone," says Wright. "I make at least 50 calls a day. Or I'm 'schmoozing' at receptions, hostessing and meeting with our sponsors."

dotOne thing is certain for all fund-raisers: long hours are never the exception, though schedules are often flexible.

Gary Sim is president of a hospital fund-raising board.

"It's project to project," says Sim. "I also schedule meetings with donors who, obviously, have jobs of their own. You have to work around that, too. I've got meetings at 7 a.m. and others after 6 p.m."

dotWright says persistence is the key to succeeding as a fund-raiser. "When people say 'no,' they're saying no to the money, not to you," she says. "It's not a personal affront. You have to get used to rejection."

Qualities critical for success include leadership, self-confidence, motivation, decisiveness, flexibility, the ability to communicate effectively, sound business judgment and stamina.

Just the Facts

Want a quick overview of what this career is about?Check out Just the Facts for simple lists of characteristics.

At a Glance

Secure funding for organizations

  • There is a high burnout rate and a lot of pressure
  • Fund-raisers can work for consulting firms, corporations, associations, government, social agencies and other organizations
  • You'll need at least a bachelor's degree -- a master's would be better