Social fundraisers are public relations professionals who work on the behalf of businesses or non-profit organization to raise funds via private donations or grants. Within the management structure of a non-profit organization, social fundraisers are also known as directors of development. “Fundraiser” is more of a common, everyday term used most often to describe the end result of a public relations professional, but the job entails far more responsibilities than merely raising large amounts of money.
“Public relations manager” or “public relations specialist” are two interchangeable job terms for social fundraisers. Essentially, these professionals groom the public image of a non-profit organization in order to raise as much funding as possible. Public relations specialists are responsible for interacting with the media and, occasionally, working in tandem with marketing professionals in order to deliver a more coordinated strategy.
As touched upon previously, the primary job responsibility of a public relations director revolves around raising capital to fund the coffers of non-profit organizations that champion social causes. For example, the United Way employs public relations directors in order to maintain and grow a network of charitable donors and annual events.
Social fundraisers must be able to determine which segments of the population are likely candidates to contribute to a particular cause. Social fundraisers devise creative strategies to connect these potential donors with the organizations in need of investment. In one manner of speaking, social fundraisers act as the intermediary between non-profit organizations and their donors.
Coordinating efforts with the media is an indispensable part of a public relations manager's job duties. Non-profit organizations may spend millions of dollars on advertising campaigns just to spread awareness. Public relations directors are responsible for making the most out of every dollar an organization spends on advertising, particularly broadcast television and Internet advertising.
Maintaining and developing a corporate brand is another very important goal that social fundraisers must be able to accomplish well. Without brand awareness, any non-profit organization will fall into oblivion without a steady stream of donations from dedicated donors. A cleverly devised brand can make the difference between a successful fundraising campaign and an unsuccessful campaign.
Fundraisers may also be responsible for preparing the speeches and public statements of a non-profit's top spokesman as well. These spokesmen may either be executives under the employ of the non-profit organization or outsiders carefully chosen to speak on behalf of the organization in question. Fundraisers help to ensure that all parties involved maintain a unified front on the behalf of their beneficiaries.
Simple social networking is arguably the most important aspect of a public relations specialist’s job duties. Identifying the perfect donors is only the first part of the job description. The difficult part of the job is to actually convince these donors to give generously to a charitable cause. Many charitable donations are made every year across the globe, but the most successful charities see revenues rise year after year, not just after one single fundraising event.
Public relations professionals can come from a very wide variety of educational backgrounds. Many social fundraisers have no formal education at all and rely solely on work experience and life wisdom in order to have a successful career. More often than not, however, fundraisers have at the very minimum a bachelor's degree in business, accounting, or finance, but other degrees well suited for a career as a fundraiser include communications and media degrees.
Advanced degrees in journalism or business administration are suitable for positions as public relations managers in the largest non-profit organizations. At the highest level, these fundraising professional are responsible for managing an entire team of individuals, so the job requirements of these positions are much more complex. For example, rather than writing all press releases themselves, top-level public relations managers may delegate that responsibility to a media specialist who comes from a more journalistic background.
The best schools for starting a career as a fundraiser include New York University, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Southern California. All three of these schools in the United States offer students a strong background in media relations and marketing, two indispensable skills for social fundraisers to possess.
The work environment of a public relations manager varies depending upon a large number of factors. The main factor is the scope of the non-profit organization that employs the fundraiser. For example, medically focused charities often require fundraising events to be coordinated on-site at medical clinics and hospitals. Charities that champion social causes, on the other hands, may not require on-site events such as these.
Regardless, public relations professionals typically work out of an office setting, and a growing number of these fundraisers work out of a home office. In one manner of speaking, the work environment of a public relations specialist depends on his or her own creativity since fundraising can occur in a wide number of settings.