A fundraising consultant is one who helps to develop and coordinate activities that are targeted towards securing funds for charitable or nonprofit organizations, political candidates, or projects. Fundraising consultants can easily work as independent contractors or be hired as staff in consulting or public relations firms.
Fundraising as a job can involve long work hours, depending on the consultant’s client load. Some fundraising goals and situations may lead to stress on the part of those involved in the planning and execution of the project.
Requirements on How to Become a Fundraising Consultant
There are certain skills fundraising consultants need to have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. When it comes to the most important skills required to be a fundraising consultant, resumes that were reviewed listed that 13.8% of fundraising consultants included corporate donations, while 12.0% of resumes included capital campaign, and 9.7% of resumes included non-profit organization.
Hard skills like these are helpful to have when it comes to performing essential job responsibilities. If you aspire to be a fundraising consultant and don’t know how to go about it, we have provided you a step by step guide on how you can start.
Table of Content
Get a Bachelor’s Degree
When aiming to be a fundraising consultant, you should aim for higher education. Aspiring fundraising consultants typically need a bachelor’s degree in communications, marketing, nonprofit management, or public relations. Other fundraisers were found to major in English.
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.
Fundraisers who plan to work with large donations may earn an advanced degree in law or finance to help donors receive the greatest tax benefits from their donations. This goes to show that you would not go very far on the job unless you get a degree.
If you want to test the waters first before you jump inside, you may want to consider an internship. Students can learn more about the position through fundraising internships. Duties of an intern 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.
2. Gather Some Relevant Experience
Establishing a track record of success is important when it comes to becoming a fundraising consultant. Prospective fundraising consultants often start out in the development department of nonprofit organizations. Here they may maintain donor databases, write grant proposals, and organize fundraising activities.
In these lower-level positions, future professionals 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. To get more relevant experience, you may have to join a professional organization.
Professional organizations like the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Council for Advancement of Support and Education offer continuing education, fundraising resources, and networking opportunities for members. Organizations such as CFRE International also provide professional certification, which requires fundraisers to pass a written exam and participate in educational programs.
3. Diversify Your Potentials
Fundraising consultants need experience in a variety of settings in order to build credibility with future employers. For example, if someone only has experience fundraising for local non-profits, he or she 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 your dream job.
4. Get Certified
Many states require annual registration of fundraising consultants. Some states require bonds, filing of contracts with charities, and reports on outcomes. Because requirements differ by jurisdiction, the best course of action is to contact the attorney general’s office in the state(s) where you will be consulting to determine applicable regulations, fees, and reporting requirements. To be more relevant in this job, a lot of employers would require fundraising consultants to be certified.
Career Skills and Information
Fundraising consultants must be people-oriented professionals that have the ability to develop relationships with donors. They should also have excellent listening, verbal, and writing skills, and be familiar with Microsoft Office Suite and database software.
Between 2018 and 2028, public relations and fundraising managers can look forward to a 8%, or faster than average, increase in jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). As of May 2018, public relations and fundraising managers earned an average annual salary of $114,800.
Most fundraising consultants need at least a four-year degree in communications, marketing, nonprofit management, or public relations. You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become a better fundraising consultant.
In fact, many fundraising consultant jobs require experience in a role such as development director. Meanwhile, many fundraising consultants also have previous career experience in roles such as executive director or a relevant internship.