Show Me the Money: The Growing Need for Fundraising Professionals

By Barry Elkus, Partner & Nonprofit Practice Co-Leader

Barry Elkus - Partner & Nonprofit Leadership Practice Co-Leader

In the past year, our Nonprofit Leadership Practice has seen a growing need from nonprofits for experienced, successful development professionals to lead their fundraising efforts. What’s driving this level of activity in the market? There are several factors, including a reduction in government reimbursement for many services, changes in the tax laws around the deductibility of charitable gifts, new ways that individuals choose to support their favorite causes, and the retirement of experienced development professionals.  

For fundraising pros with a successful track record, this is a favorable time to explore career growth opportunities. For others thinking about making a transition to more mission-driven work, a career in development may be a path worth exploring as the demand for fundraisers will continue to grow. If you’re in sales, business development, client service, event planning, or other public-facing roles, you may be wired for success in development. Here are a few questions to consider:

 

  • Do you have a passion for certain causes?  The arts, children, nature, seniors, education?  To be successful, you’ll need alignment with the right organization.
  • Are you a good listener?  Successful development professionals really listen for ways to connect with potential donors.
  • Do you drive satisfaction from achieving quick wins (annual giving) or building longer term relationships (major gifts)?
  • Do you thrive under pressure?  The drive for results is ever present.
  • Are you a player-coach?  Regardless of the size of the organization, all hands are on deck and no task is too small.
  • Do you have a robust local or regional network of friends and connectors? This is not necessary but can make you a more attractive candidate.

If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, it could be an opportune time to consider a career in development. Recognize that you may still need to overcome a lack of direct fundraising, or non-profit experience. Here are a few tips to help make you a more attractive candidate:

 

  • Volunteer in the community and help raise funds for a good cause.
  • Continue to build your network through LinkedIn or other social platforms.
  • Meet with a successful development professional to learn how your business experience is relevant and transferable.

Now may be a great time to make a career shift that could help change lives in our community for the better.

Want to learn more about Gilman Partners' Nonprofit Leadership Practice or talk to Barry about a development role? You can email him at belkus@gilmanpartners.com.