This is part one in a series of three: How to get into fundraising from sales or marketing, how to get into fundraising from more blue-collar fields, and then, how to get OUT of fundraising and into something you like better.
Part One: If you’re in sales or marketing, the leap to fundraising is not far.
You already know how to write, and how to talk persuasively to people.
You already know that when you’re marketing an organization, it’s important to make it look good, get out there, and get your business in the news a lot.
You have a leg up on your competition if you majored in marketing. A lot of development professionals don’t know how to write a press release, or pitch a story to a news outlet. If you have a list of contacts at local TV, radio, and newspapers, you’re going to be able to sell yourself as a savvy fundraiser.
You also have a leg up if you know basic graphic design. A lot of fundraising staff have no experience in graphic design, and are called upon to create any and all marketing materials.
Have you used the Salesforce database or other databases to track potential clients? Great! Your experience will work well with nonprofit databases to track donors. They may already be running Salesforce.
1. Do you have a professional wardrobe? This will be valued by nonprofit leadership. Many nonprofits are jeans and flannel kind of places, due to the nature of social service work and tiny salaries. If you are going to give a presentation in front of a chamber of commerce, or group of employees at a big company, you’ll most likely already have the wardrobe that will work with that audience. Go you!
2. Now, you need to work on other skills. If you can write, can you also research? You can volunteer to find grants for a local nonprofit, write a grant, and put this on your resume.
3. Can you organize groups of people? If so, start learning now how to run events. This will be useful for the nonprofit when you start to put on fundraisers and friendraisers for them.
4. Things you may need to work on include mailings, if you haven’t had experience with that yet, social media, thank you letters aka acknowledgment letters, and coaching others to ask for money.
Also, 5. you’ll need to learn to nag your superiors (the board) into doing their duty to fundraise for the nonprofit. This can be tricky.
8. Buy some resources from The Wild Woman’s Guide to Fundraising and get all of the tips and tricks you need to make your new career a success.
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