Many of us tend to think of working as a charity fundraiser as being rewarding in the sense of giving, rather than receiving. However, if you’ve got a flair for finance and funding, then working as a charity fundraiser could be financially rewarding for both yourself and the charity you’re working for.
According to TotalJobs, one of the UK’s top job vacancy websites, the average salary for charity fundraisers is £22,493 (as of August 2017). However, this average covers a large range, across starting salaries from as low as £15,000 to the higher salaries of around £60,000 for established professionals:
- Starting salaries: Whilst salaries of around £15,000 may be offered initially, even for graduates (depending on the degree subject and relevant experience), most starting salaries increase to around £23,000 yearly if you can bring industry experience and a network of contacts to the role.
- Extra experience: for more experienced fundraisers, average salaries can rise beyond that initial £23,000 to around £30,000 a year.
- Highly successful: those with a proven track record for achieving client engagement and creating successful fundraising campaigns can command around £60,000 yearly. These higher salaries may be offered to those involved in the strategic, organisational and consultation end of the scale and sought-after fundraiser freelancers.
Progression across salary scales and access to higher salaries can be influenced not only by the skills, knowledge and qualifications brought to each role, but also by any specialisms and evidence of successful charitable fundraising on offer:
With a salary of around £32,500 a year, virtual and events fundraiser specialists can earn up to £10,000 a year more than their mainstream charity fundraiser contemporaries. This enhanced salary reflects levels of additional expertise, knowledge and qualifications in these fields. What’s more, continued professional development in specialist areas could further increase higher-than-average earning potential, particularly as current demand for skills in virtual and digital event specialisms continues to grow.
- Success in skills:
Being successful means being skilled, which is crucial for progressing to higher grade salaries. Successful fundraising popularly overlaps with event management skills as success in both is often only achieved through running events efficiently.
- Success in money management:
And of course it’s not just about running those events efficiently – when it comes to charity fundraising, events must also be run cost-effectively. As such, those with a background of solid success in the financial aspects of fundraising may find themselves with plenty of options for higher salaries.
- Success in career movement:
It’s also possible to move into other types of event management from the not-for-profit sector, as a successful charity fundraiser career shows a good grounding in ensuring cost-effective events with profitable outcomes. This can also be favourable for those looking to move into a career as a freelance fundraising consultant. Working freelance in this way offers plenty of exciting opportunities across a range of fundraising roles within many sectors, not just charity ones, for example within:
- Hospitals and hospices
- Culture and Arts
- Political parties
- Community organisations
Charity fundraiser roles
Charity fundraiser roles can take on several forms and the skills you have can make you a more natural choice for one of these, such as:
- Corporate fundraisers
Working with businesses to generate funds / alleviate costs of events for charities, through strategies such as corporate sponsorship and payroll giving – great for those with solid financial and business skills.
- Community fundraisers
Local, national or international charities all employ community fundraisers who literally act as a point of contact by working within local communities is ideal for those with excellent people and communication skills.
- Legacy fundraisers
Working with individuals on charitable donation as part of will provision, again the prospects are good for those with skills in communication, planning and finance.
So how do I earn my charity fundraiser salary?
How you earn your salary will be reflected in the job description and any level of responsibility your specific role brings. So, a new-to-role charity fundraiser with no background or qualification in the role may be responsible just for generating funds to start with, or have a low level of responsibility for door-to-door and street collecting, in collaboration with volunteers.
However, it’s possible to start higher up (or progress quickly) by gaining the experience and qualifications which lead to fundraising roles with greater responsibilities, such as:
- Creative contributions – researching, generating and developing fundraising ideas;
- Managing campaigns – for instance door-to-door and street collections or media campaigns;
- Recruiting, training and organising – volunteers and staff teams;
- Record-keeping, performance monitoring and reporting – your own and others’;
- Outlet management – such as charity shops, online and mail order;
- Budget management – to ensure profitability of projects;
- Target management and reporting – for sustainability as well as profitability;
- Media management – giving interviews, writing press releases, running media campaigns;
- Community outreach –giving talks about the charity and fundraising campaigns. Outreach also includes motivating existing supporters and inspiring new involvement from the community (at individual, small business and corporate levels);
- Planning and running fundraising events as a whole – from start to finish rather than just one element;
- Corporate strategy – working with corporations on charitable giving (which could include time, products, services or money)
As with effective event management, being a successful (and higher earning) charity fundraiser is about raising client engagement, so in all cases, being able to achieve engagement underpins any successful career in the charity sector.
Finally, what are the hidden aspects which influence what you can expect to earn as a charity fundraiser?
- Counting time, not money
Although full-time roles for fundraisers are common, there’s an element of flexibility which is often required – for example. fundraising dinners take place in the evenings whereas street collections are most effective on Saturday mornings at local shopping centre. So, when you consider any salary being offered, remember there’s also a time-value to consider, especially as ‘peak’ time working often isn’t compensated by salary or enhanced hourly rates, but by time off in-lieu.
- Quality of qualifications
Just like other charitable roles, relevant skills and experience are often viewed more favourably than overall level of education. So, someone with a degree in an unrelated field of study might be deemed less suitable than a candidate with no traditional degree but a certificate or diploma in marketing or event management instead, which may actually reflect more direct experience.
So, whether you’re looking to break into charity fundraising, or to improve your progression and salary prospects in a current fundraiser role, taking up event education or training which includes opportunities to gain experience (through volunteering and in-role learning activities) and which puts emphasis on client engagement (essential when fundraising) can be a way to financial success for charities and yourself.