Hot MBA Jobs – Nonprofit Fundraiser


It goes without saying—everybody likes making money. But while everyone loves some extra change in their bank accounts, some really get a sense of accomplishment working directly for a cause or nonprofit corporation.

A professional fundraiser works to bring in money for an employer—which can be a nonprofit organization. Several nonprofit industries focus in educational institutions, religious organizations, health research foundations, social services organizations and political campaigns. Fundraisers also work with the organization’s board members, training volunteers and keeping tabs on donors.

Nonprofits don’t have clearly defined sources of funding, so they rely on fundraisers to draw revenue from earned income, which includes revenue from subscriptions, gift shop sales, program ads and ticket sales; philanthropic contributions from private donors, which can come from individuals, foundations and corporations; and direct government subsidies, like grants and loans.

Like many other business positions, a fundraiser must exhibit great communication skills. Nontechnical skills, such as being likable, persuasive and influential, are very important for success in the fundraising world.

According to Forbes, some 350,000 U.S. nonprofits have budgets of more than $100,000. Meanwhile Nonprofit Almanac reports that in 2010:

  • 1.6 million nonprofits registered with the IRS
  • The nonprofit sector contributed $804.8 billion
  • Public charities reported $1.51 trillion in revenue
  • Nonprofits accounted for 9.2 percent total wages and salaries in the U.S.

U.S. News & World Report named fundraisers as one of ‘6 Hot Jobs for MBA Graduates.’ According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for fundraisers was $52,970 in May 2015. BLS projects the employment of fundraisers to grow 9 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Strong employment growth driven by the continued need to raise money should result in good job opportunities. U.S. News also ranked fundraisers 19th overall in its ‘Best Business Jobs‘ list.

Additionally, a survey conducted by the executive placement firm Nonprofit HR Solutions reports that 44 percent of respondents expected to create new positions within their organizations, while 72 percent did not anticipate eliminating any positions.

Professional fundraisers come from a variety of educational backgrounds, with most coming from business or communications programs. Many employers only require bachelor’s degrees for fundraising positions.

Are MBA programs specializing in nonprofits a worthwhile investment? Advanced degrees are generally a good idea and will help you land a job, especially in growing sectors. While an MBA may not be as relevant as a degree that aligns closely to a specific organization’s mission, prospective graduate business students can also look into earning nonprofit MBAs—a specialized MBA degree with a focus on the nonprofit and government sectors.

Which schools feature the best nonprofit MBA programs? U.S. News & World Report‘s 2016 list of ‘Best Nonprofit Graduate School Programs‘ outlines the following top 10:

As it turns out, many high-profile nonprofits are actually led by MBAs, such as Habitat for Humanity, which reports that about 10-12 percent of their staff worldwide hold MBAs. When looking to add to their staff, employers at nonprofits often look for the following skills from MBAs applying for new positions:

    1. Experience working in teams
    2. Problem solving
    3. Ability to anticipate and prepare for change
    4. Research design
    5. Performance analysis
    6. Sales experience

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About the Author

Max Pulcini

Max Pulcini is a Philadelphia-based writer and reporter. He has an affinity for Philly sports teams, Super Smash Bros. and cured meats and cheeses. Max has written for Philadelphia-based publications such as Spirit News, Philadelphia City Paper, and Billy Penn, as well as national news outlets like The Daily Beast.

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