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Job description: Head of fundraising

Interested in progressing your fundraising career? Have a look at our job description for help moving up the career ladder

A head of fundraising works for a charity or other not for profit body, such as a university, coordinating its fundraising activities and managing a team of fundraisers. Heads of fundraising devise and implement a fundraising strategy of income-generating activities, aiming to meet or surpass an income target.

They often form part of the organisation’s leadership team and report directly to the chief executive. However, in very large charities, the head of fundraising sometimes reports to a more senior director of fundraising.

The day-to-day

Typically, a head of fundraising will:

  • Devise a fundraising strategy to be approved by the chief executive or senior leadership team
  • Agree a departmental budget and work to achieve or exceed a fundraising target
  • Co-ordinate and manage fundraising, comprising community, trust, corporate, major donor and digital fundraising, across the organisation
  • Line manage and motivate a team of fundraising managers and officers across different fundraising functions
  • If necessary, manage and motivate a team of volunteers who engage in fundraising activities
  • Build relationships with high profile and high net worth individuals as potential donors to the organisation
  • Build relationships with charitable trusts, foundations and other institutional funders
  • Write or approve funding applications to charitable trusts and foundations
  • Attend networking events and meetings with potential donors
  • Prepare reports and give presentations on fundraising progress to the senior leadership team and the trustee board

Key skills

  • Excellent written and oral presentation skills: Heads of fundraising need to make regular presentations to trustees, senior managers or potential donors and write winning fundraising applications
  • Networking skills: Heads of fundraising will be called upon to represent their organisation to high profile and high net worth individuals and persuade them that their cause is one they should contribute to
  • Effective management skills: Heads of fundraising invariably have to line manage a fundraising team.
  • Digital skills: Mobile and online giving are an increasingly integral part of the fundraising mix. Heads of fundraising need to be adept at using these technologies and aware of their fundraising potential
  • Innovation skills: Charities believe that new fundraising rules will hinder their ability to fundraise and interact with the public. So, strong ideas about how to hit fundraising targets in this climate are at a premium
  • Budget management skills: You need to be able to work effectively with limited resources
Time management skills: The ability to prioritise and meet deadlines is key Awareness of the part of the charitable sector you wish to work in and also awareness of impending fundraising rules which will significantly change the fundraising landscape for charities

Qualifications

An undergraduate degree is expected, and a masters is often required. Many charities would also like their head of fundraising to be a member of the Institute of Fundraising. Career qualifications from the Institute of Fundraising such as the Diploma in Fundraising and Advanced Diploma in Fundraising, can be advantageous.

Relevant experience

A track record of up to five years’ successful fundraising in the charity sector is frequently desired. Heads of fundraising are usually drawn from the ranks of specialist fundraising managers. The most popular background for a head of fundraising to have is in corporate or major gift fundraising.

Salary

£30,000 - £55,000 per annum.

Hours

Typical Working Hours: 9:00am - 5:30pm

Regular office hours of 37.5 hours week are standard. However, heads of fundraising are expected to attend functions in the evening or weekends and travel to meet fundraisers or to observe the charity’s projects.

Career opportunities

Your next careers steps could be:
  • Director of fundraising
  • Head of communications or marketing
  • Chief executive

Browse head of fundraising vacancies

A head of fundraiser's perspective

"After working as community fundraising manager for six months, I have now been promoted to head of fundraising, responsible for the overall budget of Footsteps Foundation, a small disability charity based in Oxfordshire. Career paths within small charities can be much faster if you are capable and a quick learner, whereas salaries may be slightly more competitive in larger charities. In the longer term, I hope to help Footsteps Foundation build upon its successful start and increase its supporter base and income."

- Maggie Davies, head of fundraising, Footsteps Foundation

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