Decoding the job description: Fundraising manager

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What does a fundraising manager do and could it be a rewarding career choice for you? Natalie Lawford, principal consultant - fundraising at Harris Hill, shares her insights.

Natalie Lawford, principal consultant - fundraising, Harris Hill

Fundraising managers oversee the fundraising programmes in their organisation. They'll work for a charity or another type of not-for-profit organisation (like a university) and the role can vary quite considerably depending on size. In larger organisations they have a fundraising team to look after, while in smaller charities they could have sole responsibility for the entire scope of fundraising activities.

As a fundraising manager you would be responsible for meeting income targets by using various techniques to generate donations from sources such as the public (community/mass participation events and regular giving), wealthy benefactors (known as major donors), businesses and many others via special events, trust & statutory, alumni (university) and legacy fundraising.

In this article we'll look at:

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Everyday responsibilities

The day-to-day role of a fundraising manager typically involves:

  • Recruiting, organising and inspiring volunteers
  • Researching fundraising opportunities and writing grant applications to charitable trusts or statutory bodies
  • Building relationships with major donors or companies
  • Preparing and delivering presentations
  • Managing information and recording the profile and fundraising activity of donors on a database
  • Managing your own budget and ensuring targets are met
  • Ensuring major donors or companies are happy with their donation scheme (such as charity of the year partnerships) and are kept informed of progress and key milestones
  • Developing and organising fundraising campaigns, events and door-to-door collections
  • Spotting fundraising opportunities and raising awareness of the organisation's work

Key skills

Key skills you will typically need as a fundraising manager include:

  • Excellent communication skills: Both verbal and written communication skills are important for the role of a fundraising manager. You will also need to build long-term relationships with potential donors or volunteers and persuasively explain your charity’s cause to them.
  • Research skills: You will need to be good at researching and devising strategies, as well as spotting and taking advantage of donation opportunities
  • People management abilities: You need to be adept at managing others, whether they be in your team, in the wider organisation, or partners.
Strong budget management skills, organisation skills and IT skills are also important as these will all support you to achieve the fundraising targets you're aiming for. In addition, you'll need to have a keen interest in, and commitment to, the cause you’re raising money for.


An undergraduate degree is often preferable but employment-related qualifications such as those offered by the Institute of Fundraising can be even more sought after. These include the Certificate in Fundraising and the Diploma in Fundraising.


You'll typically need a minimum of three years’ experience in fundraising for the role of a fundraising manager. However, prior experience in similar areas such as marketing or sales can sometimes be considered as a substitute as they require many of the same skills.

For a legacy fundraising role, experience in law or accountancy can be advantageous. Knowledge of the charity sector and the cause you’re aiming to work for is essential. If you don’t have any experience in the third sector, you could consider volunteering in different types of organisations to build your knowledge and skills, as well as give you an idea of what kind of charity or not-for-profit organisation suits you best.

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As a fundraising manager you can typically earn anywhere from £30,000 to £45,000 depending on your breadth of experience, the organisation you’re working for and the size and scope of your remit.


The working hours of a fundraising manager are typically 35-40 hours per week. However, you may be expected to occasionally work on weekends and evenings to prepare for and attend events, in which case time in lieu is normally offered. 


Different organisations will have unique benefits that they offer staff but additional benefits you may typically get as a fundraising manager include:

  • Flexible working: Working remotely is often required for the role of a fundraising manager as you're likely to travel frequently for meetings. Working from home is also increasingly common.
  • Car allowance: If you are an area fundraiser you will be expected to drive a lot as part of the job, in which case a car or car allowance is often provided.
  • Career development: As a fundraising manager you may have opportunities to learn from and be mentored by the head of fundraising or other more senior members of your organisation, as well as attend training courses and sector-specific events to refresh your skills and stay up-to-date with the latest fundraising trends.

Career opportunities

Your next career steps may include:
  • Head of fundraising
  • Director of fundraising
  • Head of corporate fundraising
  • Head of individual giving team
  • Communications and marketing manager

A recruiter's perspective

What distinguishes fundraising managers from a lot of other fundraising roles is that they’ll typically work in small to medium size charities covering a wide range of income streams, rather than focusing on one. As a result they have a breadth of experience and a wealth of knowledge of different fundraising channels which can make them very attractive to potential employers.

Natalie Lawford, principal fundraising consultant at Harris Hill.


A fundraising manager’s perspective

I love the variety that comes with my role which involves juggling multiple fundraising events and projects, and focusing my team to raise as much as possible.

SSAFA provides lifelong support to anyone who is currently serving or has ever served in our armed forces. As an ex soldier, it is important for me to make the public aware of the charity’s work and the impact it has amongst serving personnel, veterans and their families across the UK.

With the changing economic climate, fundraising managers have had to adapt their approach to become more effective at targeting the right income streams. I am always trying to grow the experience and capabilities of the people I manage and ensure I provide strategic management and leadership in co-ordinating a portfolio of income generating activities. 

Stephen King, head of regional fundraising (North) at SSAFA – the Armed Forces charity.

 King offers these tips for aspiring fundraising managers:

  • Work hard, but smart: Where will the best returns come from?
  • Remember that integrity is key – be clear about where money raised will be spent
  • Know your audience – understand what messages and materials are likely to be most effective
  • Have a compelling case for support and people will want to make a difference: Make them aware of the genuine impact they could make
  • Try and enjoy it: There's no other job like it in the world!

For further career or recruitment advice, contact Natalie Lawford, principal consultant - fundraising at Harris Hill on 020 7820 7336 /

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