Development Officer Job Profile

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Fundraising jobs at any level are often considered very rewarding because they are done for the pure benefit of others. Charity fundraising jobs are found in every sector of society, and many organizations participate in charity events as a matter of course at least once a year. Fundraising jobs in Chicago, for example, may provide housing for underprivileged families, help sick children, or perform any other number of charitable and altruistic acts.

Becoming a fundraising or development officer is quite difficult because many times these positions are not paid. That is, although they're very rewarding in other ways, in general many people in fundraising jobs do not actually get paid for what they do. Rather, these jobs are performed on a volunteer basis.

For those organizations that do offer compensation for those in charity fundraising jobs, in many cases the job pays less than what would be considered optimal for other job sectors. Therefore, if you get involved in such a career, be advised that you may not make a six-figure salary. The rewards will be there, just in a different form.

Charity fundraising work is different from other kinds of work because it doesn't focus on making a profit for a business or for investors. Instead, this type of work exists to help others. Those who do this type of work to generate revenue beyond normal expenses usually forward most of that revenue to the charity the work is being done for.

In general, charity work is done within four major areas. It's done for political, business, or labor reasons; it's done by social and civic organizations; it's done by advocacy organizations; and it's done by purely altruistic "giving organizations."

Deciding Which Type of Charity You Would Like to Work For

You can go about developing a career or a side ''volunteer'' job within charity work in many ways. In some cases, this is volunteer work for the short-term, such as working towards a political goal that will be decided with a particular election. Alternatively, doing charity work for a business association or for civic organizations has as its goal the fulfillment of that particular organization's mission statement.

If you have a passion for a particular type of charity work, that will help you do a much better job at it. For example, volunteering for union labor because you believe in the union is a much better situation than working with a group whose ideology you do not agree with. In addition, volunteering for a union may have significant benefits that go beyond the altruistic. Because union negotiations often lead to better working conditions, benefits, and wages for workers, this has real-life ramifications, specifically better living conditions for workers (with you possibly among them).

Regardless of which charitable organization you approach, you will find that the focus is the improvement of the conditions of a particular group of people, or even a single person. Most of this is done through private contributions, and having a passion for what you do will help make sure the donations keep coming in.

Changes in Charity Work

As the Internet becomes increasingly prevalent as a means of advertising (often free or very low cost), it is changing how charity work is done in many cases. Because these charities can now use "e-services" to ask for donations, keep in touch with contributors, and do many other previously labor-intensive tasks, costs have gone down while efficiency has gone up. In addition, the Internet lets charities become even more efficient at making sure they stay within regulatory boundaries and improving their organization's efficiency. All of this translates to lower overall costs that need to be paid out of pocket, so that more money can go to the charity in question.

Doing a Job as a Full-Time Development Officer or Charity Worker

In most cases, a lot of what you are going to be doing is meeting with volunteers and coordinating efforts to make the tasks being done as efficient as possible, so that most of the money can go towards the charity. Full-time staff do get paid salaries, but in almost every case charities are run largely by volunteers.

If the organization is small, not particularly well-organized, or short on funds, you may be working with outdated equipment and in cramped spaces. However, if you work for a larger charitable organization that's well-organized, working conditions may actually be quite pleasant. Much of your time is likely to be spent dealing with volunteers and other necessary operations and efforts in the community itself.

In addition, you may have to travel a lot to meet with potential donors and supporters so that the money keeps flowing in. Because the monetary livelihood of the organization depends on donations, this is a very different situation than when a company or organization is selling something to make itself a profit.

In addition, charity work can be stressful depending on what or whom you're working with. For example, if what you do deals with helping people who are in dire financial straits, struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, dealing with unemployment, or who are in other stressful personal situations, this means that your job, too, is going to be quite stressful, since the people you're dealing with are in crisis. That means you have to have the emotional fortitude and physical stamina to do this type of work and provide the help necessary to the people who need it most.

Education and Background

The educational background you'll need to work for charitable organizations varies widely. In some cases, you may not need any formal education but can learn on the job. In other cases, you may need a degree in something like fundraising or nonprofit management. You may need a psychology degree if you'll be working with young people who are troubled or with people dealing with drug abuse. Of course, life experience trumps a formal degree; many people who have struggled with drug abuse themselves become very successful counselors and advocates for those struggling with drug abuse simply because they've been through the experience.


Again, this varies widely depending on the education needed, if any, and the nature of the work. Charitable work done on a purely volunteer basis is, of course, done for altruistic reasons and not for pay. For very large and well-funded organizations, though, an executive director may make over $100,000 year, while a program director may make $80,000 a year and a volunteer manager may make $40,000 year. These figures are presented on an estimated basis and will vary widely depending on the nature of the work done, the size of the organization, and the funds available for salaries.
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