Fundraising has become extremely important for the execution of projects or functioning of an organization. For this purpose, there are fundraising consultants who engage in the development and coordination of activities to secure funds for an activity or organization. You can find fundraisers in almost every setting requiring great financial assistance: political campaigns, charities, project-making, etc.
The position of a fundraiser is tedious and pressurizing, and this demands more than just educational qualifications to make a cut in this field. Nonetheless, if you believe that fundraising is the kind of activity you can excel in and make a distinguished career out of it, then try freelancing.
Fundraising is a popular career option in the freelance community, which is among the strongest and fastest growing community of professionals in the world. The opportunities are plentiful and the competition is stiff and throat-cutting, but despite the hurdles—which you will invariably find in any professional environment—the freelance community offers a much-preferred flexible zone of working and a better balance of negotiating powers between the freelancers and the employers. Thus, as a freelance fundraiser, you can expect to enjoy the kind of independence you may like to have in your work.
To become a freelance fundraiser, there are a couple of things you must keep in mind. These four points, if studied well, can take you to new strides and give you reputation heavily resourceful in the freelance community.
1. Educational requirements to become a freelance fundraiser
Quite frankly, formal education is not mandatory to begin as a freelance fundraiser; however, the profession in question involves public relations and strategies, which are generally learned best at universities or colleges. Moreover, the rising competition has led to the increasing demands from employers of a certain level of formal education from the freelancer. To know more on this, read below:
- A Bachelor’s degree is considered the minimum educational qualification in the field of fundraising. One can enroll in a Bachelor’s course following the completion of 10+2 from a recognized school in India, with minimum 50 percent marks in the Board examinations or any other equivalent examination.
- It is recommended that one should opt for a Bachelors course in public relations, marketing, English or any other related field. There are a number of reputed institutes in India offering B.A. in Public Relations and English and B.Com. Those opting for Bachelor’s may consider institutes such as Indian School of Public Relations, Indian Institute of Mass Communication, YMCA Institute for Media Studies & Information Technology, St. Xavier’s Institute of Communications, BhartiyaVidyaBhavan, and Jadavpur University. The majority of these institutes conduct their respective entrance examination for admission purposes; however, there are a few which enroll students on the basis of the marks obtained in 10+2.
- If you plan to study abroad, the following are some options to consider: University of Southern California, Boston University, Auburn University, Swiss German University, etc. Studying abroad may be an expensive affair, but will open gateways to an array of opportunities.
- While a Bachelor’s degree is enough to commence professional life, it is advisable to pursue post-graduation and, if possible, a doctoral study in the area of study. Advanced degree courses instill in students in-depth knowledge about the field of study and double the chances of employment.
- More formal education is not sufficient unless there is practical experience. Fundraising involves a web of activities and skills, without which one cannot successfully discharge job responsibilities. These skills are mastered through on-field training, and therefore, it is highly recommended that you seek internships which train interns in the drafting of proposals, development of programs, management of funds, a collection of general public data and evaluation of the possibilities of funds generation in the selected area.
While one usually interns at local level organizations, but, for the purpose of the portfolio of skills, a national level internship is important, and therefore, you should apply to various governmental and non-governmental bodies. Such an internship will be a star on the portfolio—something which the employers in the freelancing community will be surely besotted with. Examples of organizations you may seek an internship at are the Council for Advancement of Support and Education and NGOs such as Common Cause, Greenpeace, etc.
2. Skills needed in a freelance fundraiser
- Motivation: This goes without saying that a fundraiser needs to maintain motivation and ensure the same among his colleagues. Fundraising is not a one-man job; it generally involves a team with each member carrying out particular tasks pertaining to fundraising. As a fundraiser, you know the hardships and overburdening effect of the job, but that must not come in the way of productivity. That is where motivation will help.
- Communication skills: People will not readily give their money. They need to be convinced and assured of a lot of things: the aim of the project or organization, the constitution of the organization, the history of the organization, area of utilization of funds, and others. This requires exemplary communication skills on the part of the fundraiser, and his communication abilities must be in tune with the understanding and background of the donor. If the donor is a million dollar company, you adopt a corporate-oriented tone; if the donor is a resident of some locality, you adopt a more neighborly
Apart from dealings with the public, communication skills are imperative in correspondence with the higher-ups of the organization. You are to give a comprehensive account of the areas covered, a number of funds received, expenses incurred in the fundraising drive and whatnot.
- Social awareness: This is an absolutely essential skill for fundraisers. One must take note of the body language, expressions, the manner of speech, and other cues to ascertain the mood of the donor. Within a few minutes, you must be able to grasp whether the person is actually interested in donating or not.
- Manners: Mannerism plays a principal role in fundraising. When seeking funds, one must not project an overweening, dominating image. It is important to present the project or organization in good light, and much of the impression is created through mannerisms.
Show calmness, kindness, attentiveness, and amenability to create a good impression.
3. Job opportunities of a freelance fundraiser
There is no dearth of work opportunities in the freelancing community, and with time, the whole task of seeking a job has become easier with the advent of digitalisation.
Talking about work opportunities, fundraisers can offer freelance services to charities, NGOs, governmental bodies etc.
4. Pay scale of the freelance fundraisers
Fundraisers are becoming increasingly popular and being employed in multiple settings, from community fundraising to event fundraising—these professionals simplify the tiresome job which requires more than just talking. The pay scale is generally good but depends a lot on a number of factors such as experience, skills, workplace, etc. Fundraisers may earn in lacs depending upon the organization they work at. If you are an experienced fundraiser, you may have the liberty to place your own pay rate; however, if starting afresh, you may not have much choice.