Institute of Fundraising: The guide to kick-starting your career in fundraising

We have just returned from exhibiting at forum3 - the UK's biggest recruitment and volunteering event for the not-for-profit sector.

As first-timers, what we could not anticipate was just how busy it was going to be. Over two days, 14,000 people visited - a record number - and we feel we talked to most of them. The real question on everyone lips was 'how can I get into fundraising?'

So many budding fundraisers with real enthusiasm can only be a benefit to the sector, and we were only too happy to share our knowledge and experience.

Answering such a huge question was no doubt made easier by the launch of Working in Fundraising, our new joint publication with Society Guardian.

Using Institute members as a basis for research, this publication covers areas such as salaries, qualifications, switching sectors, job hunting, application advice and how to get ahead. It also includes a comprehensive directory and a very useful glossary.

So how do you get in to fundraising? Well there is no one clear route, and gaining practical experience is an excellent place to start. Volunteering for a charity shows real commitment and is a fantastic first step on your fundraising career path.

But before you start, there are a few key questions that you should ask yourself. What type of organisation would you like to work for, what kind of fundraising are you interested in, what skills do you want to learn, what skills do you need and what can you offer the organisation?

Also, start looking on the internet at charity recruitment agencies, in the job pages of Third Sector and sector publications. Look at all the different types of fundraising jobs, and send off for applications so that you can assess the personal specification. This will help you determine which skills you can transfer, which skills need to be developed and what is expected of a fundraiser.

Of course, there are a number of quality fundraising courses on offer, the completion of which shows commitment to your career and to the profession itself. The Institute's regional and national groups offer a one-day training programme called 'An Introduction to Fundraising' (details can be found on our website).

And don't forget Working in Fundraising, which will fast become a valuable resource for anyone looking for a career in fundraising. It can be ordered from The Guardian by calling 0870 836 0749.

Whatever you do, stay motivated. There is a rewarding career in fundraising ahead of you, and it's just around the corner.

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