Most fundraising jobs work this way in essence – there is the idea of making money in some way through volunteer work. The volunteers are in many ways the backbone of fundraising work as they get paid at most a token amount for the work they do. Some other jobs within charity fundraising include the management areas, administration, consultancy, entry-level jobs, accountancy and fieldwork/research. What you first would do is to figure out where your core competencies, skills, and strengths lie and then look around various fundraising organizations for jobs in that department – and at the same time also complement or match your passions.
The nonprofit industry has been growing and has fast become a popular alternative to regular work sectors, even offering more job openings than the latter! And nonprofit doesn't mean there is no profit for you; plenty of managers and other employees in fundraising organizations find the pay to be almost equitable to the pay in a similar level post at a high profile corporation. Fundraising consulting jobs, similarly, have an almost identical pay scale to those in other sectors of industry. And of course, there is the incomparable intellectual and emotional satisfaction you get from working for a cause you really believe in.
Once you've recognized the areas you are most passionate and moved about then you are ready to take the next step. Fundraising organizations have a lot of job openings in the area of 'solicitation' – which involves talking to people (on the phone, by email, in person) and asking them to contribute. Many times it involves public speaking and if you have any basic skill in that area then that is definitely a job in fundraising you will want to explore.
Find organizations that share your passions. Many organizations focus on one social, political or economic issue and many others cover a variety of them. Then there are umbrella organizations that include several similarly focused groups within them. Look at your area of expertise and then apply away. For instance, if you have excellent think-on-your-feet skills you may be great as a manager, or if you have strong organizational capabilities then perhaps a more administrative job would be for you. If you like meeting people and connecting with them, then soliciting might be a better area to look into.
It may be best to start while you are still in school or university. As a student you do have plenty of assignments and work but also a great deal more free time and energy to expend. Find organizations to intern in which is also one of the best foot-in-door strategies out there. Later on if you want a job with an organization, and they remember you as the extremely willing and helpful intern last summer, you are more than likely to make it past the interview stage. Of course, many may even offer you jobs closer to your graduation date – which is extremely gratifying but make sure the area of interest is closely linked to yours, as is the position.
Volunteering once you have graduated (or even while you are working another job) is also a great way to 'suss out' potential jobs at charity fundraising organizations. It gives you first-hand experience of the kind of work you can expect to be doing, of the kind of resources the organization has at its disposal and also helps you make contacts for future reference.
Working for a nonprofit organization is extremely rewarding and a great way to give back to your community. It is one of the few sectors in the work industry that always offers employment and has excellent opportunities for personal and social growth. Finding the best fundraising job depends on your capabilities, passions, and preferences but once you've found it, chances are you're going to wonder what took you so long to get there!