Blog: Jerry Lindman

Professor Jerry Lindman wants Metro Detroiters to consider nonprofit management as a viable career option. As the Director for the Center for Nonprofit Management at Lawrence Tech, he has a deep understanding of the professional opportunities they offer. Guess what he'll be writing about.

Jerry Lindman - Post 4: Careers in Fundraising

Nonprofit fundraising, known as 'fund development' is a leading source of nonprofit jobs openings. A look at the classified ads shows that.  

Fund development officers are the professionals who provide the critical leadership and management of the various programs used by nonprofits to secure charitable contributions and grant funding. Whether in hospitals, universities, museums, fund development officers are highly respected professionals serving in executive levels and reporting directly to the CEO and board of directors. All nonprofits, regardless of the size and fields of interest, have a fund development program, most have a fulltime position or positions for this function. 

The fund development field is actually made up of several subsets of development specialists who manage the standard fundraising methods commonly used to secure charitable contributions such as major gifts, annual fund, planned giving, and special events and grant writing. Each of these specialties requires distinctive skills. The fund development field also includes many key support jobs which staff various important functions in a professional fund development office such as researcher, data mangers and web specialists. All the positions in the fund development office are in high demand and have the best average pay of all nonprofit positions. Average salary for U.S. fundraisers was $72,683 in 2007. 

The skill set and competencies of a fund development staff have similarities to business sales and marketing however there are critical differences which need to be addressed for a successful transition to a nonprofit fundraising career. Here are some tips for exploring whether a fundraising career is right for you:

  1. Keep in mind that the nonprofit sector is about achievement of a mission not a profit, especially when fund development is concerned.
  2. Don’t get hung up on the barrier of being uncomfortable asking people for money. Once you understand the field of fund development, you will appreciate how naïve this perspective is.
  3. Most people do not fully understand the profession of fund development and various activities that make up a professional program. Take time to read about the fundraising profession. There are some quality books such as Careers in Fund Raising, Lilya Wagner.
  4. Get quality, professional training in fund development. Two highly regarded professional certifications programs are The Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) and the Certificate in Fundraising Management (CFRM). For information about the CFRE program for fundraising professionals click here. For more information about the CFRM education program for fundraising professionals, visit here
An important resource for professional fundraisers is the Association of Fundraising Professionals.This national organization has helpful local chapters such as the AFP Greater Detroit Chapter and the AFP Collegiate Chapter at Lawrence Technological University.  

Fund development for nonprofit organizations offers an exciting and viable professional career option for persons who take time to fully understand the nonprofit sector and the various jobs of the fund development professional.