Career, Salary and Education Information

What Fundraisers Do[About this section] [To Top]

Fundraisers organize events and campaigns to raise money and other donations for an organization. They may design promotional materials and increase awareness of an organization’s work, goals, and financial needs.

Duties of Fundraisers

Fundraisers typically do the following:

  • Research prospective donors
  • Create a strong fundraising message that appeals to potential donors
  • Identify and contact potential donors
  • Use online platforms, such as crowdsourcing, to raise donations
  • Organize a campaign or event to solicit donations
  • Maintain records of donor information
  • Evaluate the success of previous fundraising events
  • Train volunteers in fundraising procedures and practices
  • Ensure that all legal reporting requirements are satisfied

Fundraisers plan and oversee campaigns and events to raise money and other kinds of donations for an organization. They ensure that campaigns are effective by researching potential donors ahead of time and examining records of those who have given in the past. Many of the organizations that employ fundraisers rely heavily on donations to run their operations.

Many states require “charitable soliciting organizations” to register with a state agency. The National Association of State Charity Officials provides advice to charities, as well as links to each state’s charity office. Professional fundraisers who work as private consultants need to register with the state in which they do business. Fundraisers who work for an organization that engages in fundraising activity will not have to register individually as long as their organization is already registered.

Fundraisers who work for political campaigns must be knowledgeable about campaign finance laws, such as the contribution limits of an individual giving to a specific candidate. More information on federal campaign finance laws can be found at the Federal Election Commission. State laws can be found at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The following are examples of types of fundraisers:

Major-gifts fundraisers specialize in face-to-face interaction with donors who can give large amounts.

Planned-giving fundraisers solicit donations from those who are looking to pledge money at a future date or in installments over time. These fundraisers must have specialized training in taxes regarding gifts of stocks, bonds, charitable annuities, and real estate bequests in a will.

Direct-mailing fundraisers send out requests for donations to large numbers of people through the mail, over the phone, and online.

Events fundraisers obtain donations through charity events, including dinners, auctions, galas, and charity races such as 10Ks.

Annual campaign fundraisers solicit donations once a year for their organization. Many nonprofit organizations have annual giving campaigns.

Capital campaign fundraisers raise money for a specific project, such as the construction of a new building at a university. Capital campaigns also raise money for renovations and the creation or expansion of an endowment.

Work Environment for Fundraisers[About this section] [To Top]

Fundraisers hold about 73,400 jobs. The industries that employ the most fundraisers are as follows:

Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 50%
Educational services; state, local, and private 22
Social assistance 9

Fundraisers work primarily for nonprofit charitable organizations, including educational institutions, religious organizations, healthcare foundations, social services organizations, and political campaigns.

Most fundraisers are employed by the organization for which they raise funds. Some fundraisers work for consulting firms that have many clients.

Fundraisers spend much of their time communicating with other employees and potential donors, either in person, on the phone, or through email.

Some fundraisers may need to travel to locations where fundraising events are held. Events may include charity runs, walks, galas, and dinners.

Fundraiser Work Schedules

Most fundraisers work full time during regular business hours. Some, however, work under pressure of deadlines and tight schedules, possibly requiring additional hours. Nearly 1 in 5 work part time.

How to Become a Fundraiser[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Fundraisers near you!

Fundraisers typically need a bachelor’s degree and strong communication and organizational skills. Employers generally prefer candidates who have studied public relations, journalism, communications, English, or business.

Fundraiser Education

Fundraisers have a variety of academic backgrounds. However, some employers prefer candidates with bachelor’s degrees in public relations, journalism, communications, English, or business, but degrees in other subjects also may be acceptable.

Several schools offer master’s degree programs in philanthropic studies or fundraising. Requirements for entering these programs generally are based on work or volunteer experience at a nonprofit or grantmaking foundation. Students may take courses in annual campaigns, planned giving, major gifts, grant proposals, and marketing.

In addition to taking relevant coursework, students can gain experience by volunteering at local charities or participating in student-led organizations.

Other Experience

Internships and previous work experience are important in obtaining a paid position as a fundraiser. Many fundraising campaigns rely on volunteers having face-to-face or over-the-phone interaction with potential donors. It is important that the fundraiser who organizes the campaign have experience with this type of work.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Certification is voluntary, but fundraisers may obtain it to demonstrate a level of professional competency. CFRE International offers the Certified Fund Raising Executive designation for fundraisers. Candidates are required to have 5 years of work experience in fundraising, as well as 80 hours of continuing education through attendance at conferences and classroom instruction. To keep their certification valid, fundraisers must apply for renewal every 3 years.

Advancement for Fundraisers

Fundraisers can advance to fundraising manager positions. However, some manager positions may require a master’s degree, in addition to years of work experience as a fundraiser.

Important Qualities for Fundraisers

Communication skills. Fundraisers need strong communication skills to clearly explain the message and goals of their organization so that people will make donations.

Detail oriented. Fundraisers must be detail oriented because they deal with large volumes of data, including lists of people’s names and phone numbers, and must comply with state and federal regulations. Failing to do so may result in penalties.

Leadership. Many fundraisers manage large teams of volunteers and must be able to lead them without having the usual incentive of pay at their disposal.

Organizational skills. Fundraisers manage large campaigns and events. They must have strong planning and organizational skills in order to succeed.

Fundraiser Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for fundraisers is $52,430. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,190, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $90,160.

The median annual wages for fundraisers in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Educational services; state, local, and private $57,280
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 51,990
Social assistance 46,560

Most fundraisers work full time during regular business hours. Some, however, work under pressure of deadlines and tight schedules, possibly requiring additional hours. Nearly 1 in 5 work part time.

Job Outlook for Fundraisers[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of fundraisers is projected to grow 9 percent through 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will be driven by the continued need of nonprofit organizations to collect donations in order to run their operations.

Organizations that will receive less financial support than in the past, such as colleges and universities, will need fundraisers to solicit donations to make up for shortfalls. Political campaigns also will continue to hire fundraisers.

More nonprofit organizations are focusing on cultivating an online presence and are increasingly using social media for fundraising activities. As a result, social media have created a new avenue for fundraisers to connect with potential donors and to spread their organization’s message.

Fundraiser Job Prospects

Job prospects for fundraisers are expected to be good because organizations are always looking to raise more donations. Although candidates with different backgrounds are often eligible to become fundraisers, those with experience in nonprofit and grantmaking industries will have better job opportunities.

Employment projections data for Fundraisers, 2014-24
Occupational Title Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24
Percent Numeric
Fundraisers 73,400 80,300 9 6,900

*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

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