Emily Jones, Fundraiser, Diabetes UK
How did you get into the job?
I saw a job ad and applied for the Events Coordinator role. The coordinator role allowed me to see what positions were available within the organisation. The one that really appealed to me was the Events Manager role dealing with the challenge events. Luckily for me, my colleague who had this job went on sabbatical for a year. The job was advertised both internally and externally and I applied for it and got it! A year later that colleague handed in her notice so I now have the job permanently.
What's your job history and education?
This was my first job in the charity sector. My previous work experience was working in community events. I have a degree in Philosophy from Manchester University. A degree was desirable for this role but not essential for the coordinator role.
What are the best bits/worst bits of the job?
The best bits are accompanying our supporters on their challenges to raise money for Diabetes UK. I get to meet and really get to know inspirational people from all walks of life. I then spend a week or two with them in some of the most interesting and beautiful locations in the world! The worst bit is that the role can be quite admin heavy, but I sit with my team who are all lovely so it is not so bad.
Do you have any advice for wannabes?
Volunteering for a charity can be a great way of getting some relevant experience and a foot in the door. Applying for short term contracts to cover maternity leave and so on is a really good way of moving up the ladder, as generally less experience is required because those with more experience will be applying for permanent positions.
What are the CV essentials for your job?
For my particular role, I needed two years experience in a busy fundraising, marketing or events office, including one year of 'hands-on' experience managing projects. Marketing skills are needed, so experience of producing marketing materials is required, as well as excellent communication and interpersonal skills. You also need to be willing to travel! My job calls for travel throughout the UK as well as overseas in support of our fundraisers challenges.
Sites like Charity Job are a good source for job openings in the charity and fundraising sector, as well as the Guardian Society section and Third Sector magazine. Ensure your CV sells you well - successful fundraisers need to be good at marketing and 'selling' the work of the charity, in order to get those much-needed funds, so it makes sense they need to be good at selling themselves!
A fundraiser needs to be multi-talented with a lot of energy, although a lot of the work is office-based. The job involves raising money for the charity and promoting its work at a local and national level.
That can include:
- writing applications and funding bids to government and corporate bodies, and trusts and foundations;
- using direct mailing and other forms of marketing to reach donors;
- organising events throughout the year which raise money for your employing charity;
- preparing reports for both donors and trustees of the charity; and
- approaching potential and existing donors to persuade them to donate for the first time or increase their donations.
In Emily's case, to role also involves supporting those raising money for the charity to find ways of increasing donations.
"I spend my time supporting people in their fundraising and event preparation, planning and budgeting for the following year, putting this years plan into action insuring income and expenditure budgets followed, as well as on marketing, relationship building and admin," says Emily. "The Events Manager role is essentially an office-based job. But I have lots of events to attend, including cheering at the London Marathon, marshalling at Walk in the Park in Regents Park and climbing Kilimanjaro!"
Confidence, enthusiasm, good numerical skills (particularly knowledge of finance and money management), research ability and creativity are all skills or qualities that are especially useful for a career in fundraising. "Experience in project management as well as time management and relationship-building skills are also essential, as it is a busy, varied role," adds Emily.
Personality/who does it suit?
Emily says that you need to be an organised, enthusiastic and outgoing person who is good at multi-tasking - and the ability to motivate and manage others is desirable as well. "As well, you need to be a team player who is dedicated to the role, as it can take up a lot of weekends and evenings!"
There is a lot of competition for paid work in this field, especially with well-known charities. You could work for large national charities, local charities, political parties or pressure groups, or other 'not-for-profit' organisations like hospitals, schools or community groups. Promotion prospects can depend on the charity's size and finances, you may need to move to a larger charity to get a higher salary or promotion. With experience, charity management might be an option, or becoming a self-employed fundraising consultant.
"There is room for career progression within my particular role," says Emily. "The next step up would be Events Fundraising Team Manager. The pay is less than equivalent roles in other sectors but this is made up for in that the working environment is a good one and you get the added benefit of seeing the really positive outcomes of your work."
Why not start your fundraising career by raising money for YouthNet, the charity behind TheSite.org?
Pros and cons
By Andrea Wren