What are fundraising skills? (Definition and examples)

Updated 11 April 2023

Fundraising is one way many organisations get the money required to carry out certain activities or support causes. Successfully raising funds and convincing people to donate involves a certain set of skills. Learning about these skills and how to improve them can be valuable in your career as a fundraiser. In this article, we discuss what fundraising skills are with examples, examine how to develop them and how you might use them in the workplace and review tips for highlighting these skills.

What are fundraising skills?

People use fundraising skills to raise money for a project or cause. Various ventures may require fundraising. Community projects, research activities or new business ideas may all look to raise money from fundraising. Typically, fundraising professionals use their skills to encourage public members to donate. They may also approach charitable groups or businesses as part of their fundraising activity. Even if you don't work as a dedicated fundraising professional, many jobs may require you to use these skills, including the following:

  • project manager

  • company director

  • account manager

  • events director

  • media professional

Related: How to start a career in fundraising: a step-by-step guide

Examples of these skills

Here are a few examples of some key skills valuable for fundraising:


Fundraising can involve written and verbal communication skills. You may write grant proposals or press releases or contact prospective donors by email. Much of your work duties may include meeting and talking with various people. Your aim in these encounters is to persuade them to donate, which you can achieve using communication skills such as active listening.

Related: What are communication skills?

Interpersonal skills

Successful fundraising involves building relationships with donors and prospective donors. For many of these people, you're the face of the project or cause you're raising funds for. Their impression of you informs their likelihood to donate. Good interpersonal skills help you make a positive first impression and create and maintain strong relationships. If donors feel relaxed and comfortable interacting with you, your capacity to persuade and motivate them to donate is greatly improved.

Related: Interpersonal skills: definition and examples

Technological competence

Many of the ways you interact with potential donors may involve technology. For example, you may contact them by email or through social media. You may also use technology to store donor information, including contact information and details of previous donations. Using technology to analyse trends and patterns can also help you identify the best possible fundraising leads to pursue.

Etiquette and social skills

You may interact with different types of people in a variety of settings. There's a skill to adapting your approach to each interaction to suit the circumstances. Understanding social cues, having good manners and knowing how formal or friendly to be in your tone are all important skills. Practising the proper etiquette and having good social skills can be vital to making a good impression with the people you talk to and establishing the basis for a good relationship.

Related: Important workplace social skills

Creative thinking

Creativity is highly valuable when fundraising. Successful fundraisers are often creative when planning campaigns. They seek novel ways to attract interest in their project. They may also devise creative ways to keep donors engaged and excited, ensuring their interest in the campaign doesn't dip and making donations more likely. Creative thinking often involves collaboration skills, with fundraisers sourcing possible ideas through brainstorming sessions with colleagues.

Related: 10 useful tips to help you with thinking out of the box

How to improve your skills

Here are steps to improve your fundraising abilities:

1. Set yourself goals

Take a structured approach when developing your skills in fundraising. Identify the skills you want to improve, focusing on developing one skill at a time. Set a series of achievable goals that help you move towards the overall objective of learning or strengthening that skill. For example, if you wish to develop your creative thinking, you may set a goal to host a brainstorming session. Using a series of goals means you can track your progress through the learning process. Seeing this progression can also help you maintain motivation as you learn something new.

2. Look for training opportunities

There may be training resources available that can help you develop your skills. You may find workshops or online classes dedicated to helping you learn specific skills related to fundraising. Some of these training programmes may even allow you to get recognised certifications. Depending on your industry, you may wish to look for chances to train in niche disciplines. For example, if you work in academia, completing courses on writing grant applications can help you develop valuable career skills.

3. Volunteer

A good way to develop skills is to use them in practical situations. Volunteering can be a good way to strengthen your fundraising abilities. Many voluntary organisations rely heavily, even entirely, on money generated through fundraising. Volunteering with such organisations can provide many opportunities to use your skills in a real-world setting. It can also allow you to work alongside more experienced fundraisers, learning from them as you go.

Related: Volunteer interview questions (with examples and tips)

4. Keep informed on fundraising trends

Successful fundraising relies upon appealing to potential donors. It's important to remain current on their preferences on how you may contact them. Using resources like industry textbooks or newsletters can help you stay informed. Consider networking with other professionals or observing how they approach fundraising and their tools. They may heavily use social media or online donation platforms to maintain contact with donors.

5. Look for feedback

To gain insight into how you're improving your skill, asking for feedback from others can be useful. Asking colleagues or mentors to assess your fundraising performance can help you understand the progress you're making. It can allow you to identify your strengths and highlight possible areas for improvement. Additionally, an outside perspective on your abilities can help you discover strengths or possible ways to develop that may not have otherwise occurred to you.

Skills in the workplace

Here are ways you may use your skills in the workplace:

  • Social projects: Consider organising fundraising events within the organisation, possibly raising money for a charity through an employee cake sale or something similar. Such social activities may not strictly be part of your job, but they can be a good way to use your skills to maintain positive morale and motivation among your colleagues.

  • Encouraging management support: You may have a potential project or cause you to wish to pitch but are uncertain of how receptive management might be. A fundraising campaign that can demonstrate an interest in the project among prospective donors may encourage management to support it.

  • Measuring value and achievement: The organisation may have various charitable projects, either as a part of its business plan or as a social or informal project. Approaching these projects from a fundraising perspective can allow you to tangibly demonstrate the value of the project with metrics such as donation milestones, which can encourage continued support for the project.

How to highlight your skills

Here are tips for presenting and highlighting your fundraising competencies in different situations:

1. Outline them in your CV and cover letter

To make the best first impression on potential employers, ensure the CV highlights that you have the key skills they're looking for. Review the job description to identify the skills they value most. Use examples in your job history to show you possess these skills, demonstrating how you used them in a practical environment. You can reinforce this by highlighting the most important examples in your cover letter.

Related: CV vs. cover letter: what's the difference between the two?

2. Discuss them in the interview

Practical examples are the best way to emphasise your skills in job interviews. Consider examples where you can show how using your skills overcame a specific challenge, helped achieve a goal or added value to your work. Prepare the examples you wish to use in advance but avoid memorising a specific answer. Interviewers generally respond better to natural, conversational responses rather than over-rehearsed answers. Answering like this can also demonstrate your communication and interpersonal skills to the interviewer.

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