Five Reasons to Become a Fundraiser
Rarely do you hear children say, “I want to be a fundraiser when I grow up!” When I was younger and first making choices about my future, fundraising meant selling wrapping paper to my relatives or holding a car wash so the marching band could buy new cummerbunds.
I am not alone. Professional fundraising is not something that most people have much exposure to at a young age. Yet it is a smart career choice in a diverse and growing field. At Averill Fundraising Solutions, we believe that professional fundraising is one of the wisest and most fulfilling career choices you could make. Here are five reasons you should consider a career in fundraising.
1. You will work with great organizations. As a fundraiser you may find yourself raising funds for a local food bank one year and a multi-national organization the next. You may work with top research institutions, the most well-known public charities and some of the most influential arts organizations in the world. You are guaranteed to work alongside talented individuals and have the opportunity to “lead the leaders” of these great organizations. In each case, you will have the privilege of collaborating with passionate, mission-driven people and teams that are helping to make the world a safer, healthier, more prosperous place.
2. You will have an impact. Not-for-profits make a huge impact on society and fundraisers are absolutely critical to their ability to do so. As a fundraiser, you will look back at the end of your career with satisfaction, knowing that your hard work resulted in many millions of dollars that were put to good use to reduce poverty, feed the hungry, advance medical research, save the environment, and so much more. Since I began fundraising twelve years ago, I have been honored to work with organizations to help discover new treatments for illness, conduct research to try to find a cure for cancer, provide a secure retirement for thousands of people in less-developed countries, and distribute millions of life-saving vaccines to children in the poorest countries of the world. As a bonus, working in the not-for-profit world is also good for the economy. According to the Independent Sector, not-for-profits contributed an estimated $887 billion to the economy in 2012, or about 5.4 percent of our nation’s GDP.
3. You will enjoy a diversity of experiences. As a fundraiser, your skills and expertise can be applied to any fundraising need, and therefore just about any organization. This means that over the course of your career you could work with dozens of different not-for-profits, each one unique and critical to the community it serves. Human Services, one of many not-for-profit sectors, includes organizations related to food and nutrition, legal services, housing and shelter, recreation and sports, employment services and vocational training, family and children’s services, youth services, emergency assistance, public safety and community disaster relief, and independent living and self-sufficiency for a wide range of populations. Other sectors offer a plethora of opportunities to work with great organizations making a difference in their communities. Fundraisers also enjoy a variety of day-to-day activities and experiences. On any given day, you could find yourself creating content for a website or newsletter, conducting a visit with the president of a Fortune 500 company, writing a grant proposal and facilitating a board meeting. More broadly, as a fundraiser you may at some point in your career build a development office from the ground up, develop public-private partnerships, run a multi-million dollar campaign, or develop a multi-year strategic plan. If you enjoy variety and appreciate new experiences, fundraising is a great career for you.
4. You will have job security in a growing sector. Giving to not-for-profits has increased exponentially since Giving USA began publishing an annual report on giving 60 years ago. The estimated giving in 1955, adjusted for inflation, was $65 billion. The estimated giving in 2014 was $358 billion, an increase of 450 percent from 1955. Moreover, the not-for-profit world is one of the fastest growing sectors. The Aspen Institute reports that from 1977 to 1997 the number of 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations registered with the Internal Revenue Service increased by 115 percent – about 23,000 organizations each year. In comparison, for-profit businesses experienced a 76 percent growth rate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the not-for-profit sector employs 11.4 million people – 10.2 percent of the American workforce. According to the National Council of Nonprofits, the global not-for-profit sector would have the sixteenth largest economy in the world if it were a country. Despite the annual growth, limited resources are an ongoing concern for most not-for-profits and fundraisers are always in demand. There are more than one million charitable organizations in the US. The 2015 Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey indicated that 50 percent of not-for-profits planned to create new positions in 2015, compared to 36 percent in the private sector. Additionally, there are now several major universities that offer training in philanthropy, dozens of professional development conferences and more than a dozen professional organizations that help promote the profession of fundraising.
5. You will not be stuck at a desk. Sitting is the new smoking and too many office jobs require too much of it. As fundraisers, we spend more time away from the office than in it. We travel regularly to conduct visits with potential donors, attend events and visit program sites that are supported by the funds we raise. We travel locally, nationally and internationally. And although we focus our efforts on major donors, the organizations we support usually also have marketing initiatives and grassroots outreach programs that get us moving. You might be asked to fill in as a mascot at an event, run a charity race, attend a formal event, star in a video, dump a bucket of water over your head, sail in a regatta, walk for several days, and so much more. As a fundraiser, you are not doing your job if you are stuck at a desk.
To conclude, while I mean no offense to ugly wrapping paper, I am incredibly grateful that fundraising has become so much more to me. Now, as a professional fundraiser, it means connecting grateful donors with worthwhile causes. It means interesting work and diverse experiences. And it means working toward improved quality of life, lives saved and global impact. As a professional fundraiser, you too will enjoy a career of rich and fulfilling experiences for decades to come.
Convinced? Visit Averill’s careers page to apply for the Summer 2016 Averill Internship Program and learn about Averill’s consultant positions.
Kimberly Nemire, Senior Project Manager. Kimberly has more than twelve years experience raising funds for faith-based, higher education, international, and healthcare not-for-profit organizations.