Pursuing a Career as a Fundraising Manager

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Americans donated nearly $485 billion to charitable causes in 2021, according to National Philanthropic Trust (NPT). While corporations and foundations contribute a significant share of donations, the largest source of charitable giving comes from individuals— approximately $327 billion in 2021.

Philanthropic organizations depend heavily on donations to run their operations and make a positive impact on the causes they champion. To meet their fundraising goals, these organizations need to get the word out about the causes they represent and present a compelling case to the public that they are deserving of donations.

Fundraising managers are often integral to the success of these organizations, developing and overseeing fundraising strategies and campaigns to help them reach their fundraising goals. Running a successful fundraising campaign requires leadership skills, strategic thinking, and analytical expertise—all skills that can be developed by pursuing an advanced business education.

Fundraising Manager Job Description

Fundraising managers generally work for nonprofit organizations and charities as well as educational institutions, such as colleges and universities; they may also work for political campaigns to generate campaign donations. A typical fundraising campaign comprises many moving parts, and so it falls on the fundraising manager to coordinate and supervise the day-to-day operations to ensure that everything functions smoothly.

In addition to leading their staff, fundraising managers often work with a team of marketers, volunteers, coordinators, and community members to conduct various methods of public outreach designed to create awareness for their causes.

Successful fundraising managers must be prolific networkers, establishing and building strong relationships with current and prospective donors in various sectors. Securing donations from companies and foundations is a big part of a fundraising manager’s job, and they often give public presentations about the merits and goals of their causes.

Although the day-to-day responsibilities of a fundraising manager vary by campaign, they typically include the following:

  • Conduct research to identify potential donors.
  • Lead public relations efforts and the messaging of their organization.
  • Create written proposals for potential donors.
  • Oversee the campaign budget.
  • Devise new methods of creating awareness for their cause.
  • Work with marketers to create marketing strategies and outreach materials.
  • Plan events and networking opportunities intended to boost donations.
  • Establish relationships with the community, the media, and local businesses.
  • Supervise fundraising staff and monitor their progress.

Fundraising Manager Salary and Job Outlook

Their leadership and expertise in procuring donations make fundraising managers highly valuable to charitable organizations. As a result, they’re typically well compensated for their efforts.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual fundraising manager’s salary was $100,810 in 2021, with those in the top 10% of earners making more than $204,000. These figures are meant to serve as a baseline. Individual salaries are influenced by education, experience, region, and other factors.

The job market for fundraising managers is also promising. The BLS projects that employment will grow by 10% between 2021 and 2031, double the national average for all occupations.

A fundraising manager at a podium gives a speech.

How to Become a Fundraising Manager

Becoming a fundraising manager typically requires a combination of education and experience. Although not every fundraising manager takes the same steps on their career path, some key steps include the following:

  1. Earn an undergraduate degree in public relations, communication, business, marketing, or a related field.
  2. Gain fundraising experience via an internship or entry-level work. Many fundraising campaigns look for volunteers who are willing to donate their time in exchange for on-the-job experience.
  3. Earn a master’s degree in business administration, public relations, nonprofit management, or a similar field; although this step is often optional, many employers prefer candidates with an advanced education.
  4. Secure a position in fundraising that’s higher than an entry-level position, and continue to gain more experience.
  5. Complete the Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) course to earn relevant certification. While earning certification is usually optional, the CFRE credential demonstrates an individual has met the standards of competence, service to philanthropy, and ethics.

In addition to these steps, aspiring fundraising managers should focus on networking and relationship-building to hone their interpersonal skills.

Embark on a Rewarding Career That Benefits Others

A skilled fundraising manager can be the difference between a nonprofit hitting or exceeding its fundraising goals, or falling short. Organizations such as Doctors Without Borders, the American Red Cross, and the World Wildlife Fund all depend on fundraising managers to help them support their causes.

Although an undergraduate degree may qualify an individual for entry-level roles in fundraising, an advanced education is encouraged for career advancement. The Online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program offered at Washington State University teaches the skills and knowledge that aspiring fundraising managers need to be successful in their role. Conducted fully online, the program covers the most in-demand competencies and concepts in business.

With concentrations in marketing, finance, international business, and hospitality business management, along with a general track, WSU’s MBA program ensures that students receive a well-rounded education. Learn more about the program and find out how it can help you achieve your professional goals.

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Betterteam, Fundraising Manager Job Description

CareerExplorer, What Does a Fundraising Manager Do?

Certified Fund Raising Executive

National Council of Nonprofits, Fundraising

National Philanthropic Trust, Charitable Giving Statistics

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Public Relations and Fundraising Managers