How to Stay Competitive in your Fundraising Career

When it comes to your fundraising career, it’s important to think about how to stay current.

What are you doing, right now, to stay fresh with your fundraising talents?

According to LinkedIn, here are the hottest, most in-demand skills around the world:

  1. Cloud and Distributed Computing
  2. Statistical Analysis and Data Mining
  3. Web Architecture and Development Framework
  4. Middleware and Integration Software
  5. User Interface Design
  6. Network and Information Security
  7. Mobile Development
  8. Data Presentation
  9. SEO/SEM Marketing
  10. Storage Systems and Management

What should these skills mean to you, as a nonprofit professional, and as a fundraiser?

Well, when it comes to finding new donors for your cause, you might want to look at people who have these skills, as they will be the ones who are employed, and who might have disposable income to give to your cause.

But as you look at this list, what can you do to stay current, and fresh in fundraising?

Bottom line: You’ll be in greater demand in the nonprofit world if you know about how to help people look at data.

Data presentation is on this top 10 list because there’s more data than ever out there these days, and we need people to tell us what it means. That’s only going to increase in the years to come. Luckily, many of us fundraisers already have experience with data presentation, during our preparation of, YES, you guessed it, our Annual reports!

If you’re a really savvy fundraiser, you’ll also want to make sure that you’re gathering and presenting data every month on what you’re doing for your job. This behavior can simply show your boss that you’re not just getting donations, but you’re out there sowing seeds.

What about cloud based databases as a skill?

Of course, every nonprofit wants a fundraiser who knows how to work with databases. But you can’t keep up on all of them, so one of the best ways to keep fresh with databases is to make sure that you are always looking for new demos to try in the most popular fundraising databases.

These would include DonorPerfect, Blackbaud, Bloomerang, and Salesforce. This way, if people ask you what you know about these databases, you can say, “I’ve worked with them before, and I’m eager to continue to learn about them.”

Again, pulling data out of the databases is key, and then being able to synthesize and present it to board members, donors or other stakeholders.

Looking at statistical analysis as a highly sought after skill, you might think that this is the same as data presentation, but it isn’t.

Statistical analysis in fundraising is all about how to look at your fundraising stats over time, not just how many donations you get, how many donors you keep and how many leave, but how you’re hitting your targets for people touched, each month, including thank you notes, phonecalls, and emails.

Your statistical analysis will also include combing your database and creating reports, looking at people who have the greatest capacity to become major donors.

Aside from looking at frequency, recency and monetary value, what else can you look at in your statistical analysis of donors?

You can look at who has opened and clicked on emails from you, who has answered surveys, who your leaders have met with in the last 6 months, who has a donor advised fund, who are alumni or patients or people who are connected to your programs in some way.

If you don’t know where to start in how to break down which donors to pay attention to, check out They have a lot of resources on how to track what your donors do online, and help them fill out surveys so you can do what is called “Lead Scoring” of your donors, and see which ones are most worth your time, based on their own assessment of their interest in your cause. If your database does not let you do “lead scoring” yet, you might want to consider a database that does let you do this.

It’s unlikely that you’ll work at a nonprofit that wants you to do SEO and SEM or User Interface Design, but if you do find that nonprofit, keeping your skills up in content marketing and Googles ever-changing algorithm is a good idea. Here’s an infographic on how to do better SEO in the next 6 months.

In larger nonprofits, like universities or hospitals, you’ll find that data analysis, database gurus, and data presentation can be separate job titles within the organization. In smaller nonprofits, you’ll have these all rolled into one title. But whether or not you plan on working at large or small nonprofits in the next 5 years, having a few of these skills under your belt will undoubtedly serve you well.

What this list DOESN’T cover are the soft skills; how you get along with people in your office, how you build trust, and how you deal with recruiters in fundraising.

If you’d like to learn more about these elements of getting ahead in your fundraising career, then join us for the 3rd annual Fundraising Career Conference April 17th, 19th and 21st 2017.

How does it break down by country?

Here are the top skills required in Canada

Top skills required in 2017 for Canada

Here are the top skills required in the UK

Here are the top skills required in the US

If you want 65 more fundraising career resources, just go here.

If you want 99 more nonprofit leadership resources, click on over here.

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