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Fundraising managers work for organizations, planning and executing fundraising campaigns and events. They oversee teams of volunteers and contact potential or existing donors to spearhead fundraising efforts.
These professionals often work for nonprofit organizations, like charities, religious organizations, or educational facilities. In most cases, a bachelor's degree in communications or a similar field can help workers transition to fundraising management.
This career is ideal for individuals who thrive in fast-paced environments and have excellent leadership skills. Successful fundraising managers also enjoy assisting important causes and building strong relationships with their teams and donors.
O*Net reports that 89,000 people were employed as fundraising managers in 2020, projecting 8,900 additional job openings between 2020 and 2030.
Explore this guide to learn more about the responsibilities, salary and career outlook, and top locations for fundraising managers.
What Does a Fundraising Manager Do?
A fundraising manager's primary goal is to lead their organization's fundraising efforts. They oversee volunteerism for each campaign and work directly with donors to encourage donations and enthusiasm for a cause.
Workers in this position save organizations time and money when planning and executing fundraisers. Filling this role is especially important for organizations with frequent fundraising efforts, as these professionals can bring the necessary communication, organizational, and motivational skills to help a fundraiser succeed.
Fundraising managers wear many hats. For example, these professionals may write grant applications or manage conflicts in volunteer teams. They also research fundraising opportunities, manage budgets, and compile reports or presentations illustrating fundraising outcomes.
A Day in the Life of a Fundraising Manager
A significant portion of a fundraising manager's day consists of fostering relationships with their organization's staff, volunteers, and donors. They may hold budget meetings with the finance department or executives, train volunteers, or call donors to inform them about upcoming events.
Fundraising managers also spend some of their time writing grant proposals, planning events, and researching new fundraising opportunities. They may also direct advertising campaigns across social media channels to spread awareness of their organization and its causes.
Other duties might include delivering presentations to decision-makers, recruiting volunteers, and developing partnerships with other organizations.
We explore important fundraising manager skills below.
Key Soft Skills for a Fundraising Manager
Interpersonal Relations: Social skills allow fundraising managers to interact successfully with volunteers, donors, and team members. These professionals use interpersonal skills to resolve team conflicts and offer support and gratitude to volunteers and donors.
Communication: A fundraising manager must communicate effectively with the organization's decision-makers, volunteers, and donors through presentations and meetings. Written communication skills can also assist with the grant writing and marketing involved with this role.
Resourcefulness: Fundraising leaders tap into various resources to make their organization's fundraising efforts successful. Knowing how to research and who to contact for opportunities can help them create effective fundraising campaigns.
Innovation: Creativity can push fundraising efforts to new heights. Innovative fundraising leaders build upon what they have learned from past fundraising events to create new, unique campaigns.
Key Hard Skills for a Fundraising Manager
Budgeting: Fundraising leaders create budgets for fundraising events and allocations, ensuring organizations use donor funds appropriately. A thorough understanding of campaign-specific and annual budgeting may be necessary for these professionals.
Event Planning: Fundraising campaigns often relate to events that spread awareness about organizations and facilitate donations. Event planning skills help fundraising managers create engaging events that fit the organization's budget and mission while appealing to potential donors.
Project Management: A fundraising manager leads fundraising projects to ensure their success. They work closely with executives, staff, and volunteers to plan, execute, and delegate tasks for events, research, and donation efforts.
Analysis: During and after a fundraising campaign, fundraising leaders analyze the campaign's success. They draw on donor data like engagement, raised funds, and feedback to determine avenues for improving fundraising efforts.
How to Become a Fundraising Manager
Fundraising managers usually hold a bachelor's degree in business or a related field like communications or public relations. This degree usually takes four years of full-time study.
However, some employers may prefer candidates with a master's degree in areas like nonprofit management or business administration. Graduate-level courses in these fields typically explore financial, operational, and marketing concepts in depth. They also build analytical skills that can make fundraising managers more desirable to nonprofits seeking effective problem-solvers.
If pursuing a master's degree, professionals should expect to add another 1-2 years of full-time study to their educational timeline.
Certification can also help fundraising managers develop their careers. A few organizations, such as Certified Fund Raising Executive International or the International Association of Business Communicators, offer certifications for fundraising managers. Generally, candidates need a degree, professional experience, and a passing exam grade to qualify for certification.
Fundraising Manager Salary and Career Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 8% growth in fundraising management and public relations from 2021 to 2031, with approximately 9,100 additional job openings annually. Because nonprofit organizations like religious and educational institutions consistently participate in fundraising efforts, they need fundraising managers to oversee those efforts.
As these professionals gain experience, they can increase their salaries. Payscale data from September 2022 shows more than a $3,000 increase from early career fundraising manager average salaries to midcareer average wages.
Fundraising managers in specific industries may also receive higher salaries. For example, the BLS shows those working for spectator sports, advertising services, and specialty hospitals have the highest average salaries.
Where Can I Work as a Fundraising Manager?
Nonprofit organizations like hospitals, public schools, and museums are the largest employers of fundraising managers. According to the BLS, colleges, universities, and professional schools employ the highest number of these professionals: nearly 5,000 fundraising managers.
Metropolitan areas with several nonprofit organizations tend to yield plentiful opportunities for fundraising leaders. For instance, the New York-Newark-Jersey City area employs 1,880 fundraising managers. Salaries in regions with high demand for fundraising leaders often exceed national averages. For example, the New York-Newark-Jersey City metro area pays an average salary of $175,610.
Top Locations for Fundraising Managers
When deciding where to start your fundraising management career, consider states' employment opportunities alongside their average salaries.
The BLS reports fundraising managers' average annual wage for 2021 was $119,400. However, some states may pay these professionals higher salaries: For example, New York, Rhode Island, and New Jersey each pay an average wage over $150,000.
New York is also one of the top-employing states, with 1,980 fundraising managers as of May 2021, according to the BLS. California, Texas, Illinois, and Massachusetts are also among the top five highest-employing states.
Resources for Fundraising Managers
Becoming a member of a professional organization can jumpstart your career in fundraising management through professional development and networking opportunities. Find top organizations for a finance fundraising manager below.
Professional Organizations for Fundraising Managers
Association of Fundraising Professionals
AFP prioritizes ethics and best practices in fundraising efforts. Members can enhance their fundraising careers through the group's resources; advocacy; and research, learning, and networking opportunities. Collegiate chapters are also available in the United States and Canada.
Certified Fund Raising Executive International
CFRE International currently certifies over 7,700 fundraising professionals. The organization's credential denotes understanding of professionalism and ethics in fundraising. Members can also find development resources through CFRE International's continuing education program.
National Council of Nonprofits
The National Council of Nonprofits joins nonprofits across the United States to share resources, services, and networks. Fundraising managers of member organizations can access learning materials, discounts, consulting opportunities, and exclusive events.
Common Questions about Fundraising Managers
How do I become a fundraising manager?
Fundraising managers generally need at least a bachelor's degree in business, public relations, or a similar field. However, some employers may prefer or require candidates with a master's degree or professional certification through organizations like CFRE International.
What are the challenges of fundraising?
Organizations must build trust with donors, which can take time to develop. Once they build that trust, organizations need to find ways to encourage donors to keep donating. Diversifying revenue streams, creating engaging events, and pulling in new audiences of potential donors are also among fundraising managers' challenges.
What does a fundraising manager do?
A fundraising manager uses finance expertise to plan and oversee fundraising campaigns. They manage fundraising volunteers, identify donor audiences, and plan events. They may also write grant applications and contact donors directly.
What makes a good fundraising manager?
Effective fundraising managers are organized, communicative, and creative. They also understand the importance of ethics in fundraising and pass their knowledge on to their teams of volunteers to ensure smooth, compliant operations.
Featured Image: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / DigitalVision / Getty Images
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