How to Become a Fundraising Consultant: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Explore the requirements to become a fundraising consultant. Learn about the job description, and review the step-by-step process that can help you start a career in fundraising consulting.

Do I Want to Be a Fundraising Consultant?

Fundraising consultants develop and coordinate activities to secure funds for a project or organization. Consultants can also work for politicians during their campaigns.They often work with nonprofit or charitable organizations and might be independent contractors or employees of a consulting or public relations firm. The position can be high stress and involve long work hours, depending on the consultant's client load.

Fundraising consultants typically have a bachelor's degree and several years of fundraising experience. In some cases, a master's degree is required. Relevant degree programs include public relations, fundraising, communications and nonprofit management.

Job Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Fields Common majors are marketing, public relations and English
Experience Several years of experience in fundraising and development
Key Skills Excellent written and oral communication skills, outgoing and people-oriented personality, strong listening ability
Computer Skills Familiarity with Microsoft Office Suite and database software
Additional Requirements Ability to develop relationships with donors
Salary (2014) $115,400 was the median salary for public relations and fundraising managers in 2014

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics- Occupational Employment Statistics- Public Relations and Fundraising Managers.

Step 1: Complete a Bachelor's Degree Program

Students may pursue a bachelor's degree in marketing, public relations, English or another related field. Many schools also offer fundraising courses, which cover regulations and laws for soliciting funds, strategies for running successful fundraising efforts, and effective ways to research and apply for foundation and government grants. Some fundraisers, particularly those who plan to work with large donations, may obtain an advanced degree in law or finance to help donors receive the greatest tax benefit from their donations.

Success Tip:

  • Consider an internship. Students can learn more about the position through fundraising internships. Duties may include researching possible donors, drafting proposals and thank you letters, developing special programs and assisting with fundraising events. Other options include volunteering for donor drives at nonprofit organizations or conducting fundraising for campus groups.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

Establishing a track record of success is important for fundraisers. Prospective consultants often start out in the development department of nonprofit organizations, where they may maintain donor databases, write grant proposals and organize fundraising activities. Consultants can learn to communicate with individuals of different economic statuses and interests by helping to plan and lead fundraising initiatives that reach a variety of donor types.

Success Tip:

  • Join a professional organization. Groups like the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Council for Advancement of Support and Education offer continuing education, networking and fundraising resources for members. Organizations such as CFRE International also provide professional certification, which requires fundraisers to pass a written exam and participate in educational programs.

Step 3: Diversify

It is important to garner experience in a variety of settings in order to build credit with future employers. For example, if someone only has experience fundraising for local non-profits, they may not be as employable as someone who has experience at the national level working on multiple platforms and coordinating with various government and non-governmental entities. And remember, even an internship at the national level is important! Moreover, anything that can show your level of comfort and experience in multiple settings can be beneficial towards landing a dream job.

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