Know your worth: What’s the true value of a fundraiser?

August 7, 2023
7 minutes
Six people of varying heights, ages, genders, and skin colors stand in a line facing the viewer against a background of light teal blue green.

Most of us 99 percenters feel occasionally underappreciated and consistently underpaid at our jobs. Sure, nonprofiteers aren’t in it for the gold and glory, but also… a little more gold would be nice. Just, like, a pair of stud earrings or a toe ring!

When you get down to it, fundraisers wear so, so many hats and have so, so many skills—but the paychecks rarely reflect that heavy load. Just as a stay-at-home parent wonders why they’re not making bank as a personal chef, cleaner, chauffeur, librarian, and knocker-upper, you may find yourself pondering what your experience is worth in other industries. Well, look no further, because we’ve scoured the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) occupation data to bring you a breakdown of a fundraiser’s true value. After all, in the immortal words of RuPaul, if you're not gonna love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else?

Jobs fundraisers do and how much they make

It's a long list... and it just keeps going. BTW, if you’re feeling overworked and overwhelmed, a lot of the jobs below can go to your friendly fundraising platform, Funraise. From gorgeous templates to automated workflows, it’s almost as polymathic as you!

Fundraiser: $60,660 per year

First things first: What’s the median salary for an actual, bonafide, full-time fundraiser? According to our pals at BLS, it’s just over $60k. And BLS recognizes that the job calls for Jack/Jill/Jall-of-all-trades. The role description states, “Fundraisers organize events and campaigns to raise money and other kinds of donations for an organization.”

Administrative services manager: $99,290 per year

Do you “plan, direct, and coordinate activities that help an organization run efficiently”? We figured! Most fundraisers are masterful conductors, ensuring their organization is making the sweetest, most impactful music possible. Outside the nonprofitsphere, that role is known as an administrative services manager, and it nets you nearly $100k a year.

Marketing manager: $133,380 per year

Come one, come all, to our world-changing, impact-making, fund-raising event! Open your hearts and your wallets by giving to our life-changing, spirit-lifting cause! Rally your friends! Give back, give big! Rah, rah, rah! So, soooo much of being a fundraiser is marketing and promotions. After all, without a community of supporters, you can’t do what you do. And if you were a full-time marketing guru, you’d be paid handsomely for bringing in the interest and the big bucks at $133,000 per year.

Graphic designer: $50,710 per year

You whip up event invites that, much like a milkshake, bring all the guests to your yard, and you make logos like the Nike swoosh is a part of your DNA. You, fundraiser, are a one-stop design shop. And as a graphic designer, you’d make around $50,000 a year.

Compliance officer: $71,650 per year

There are plenty of fun parts of being a fundraiser, but unless reading the small print gives you a thrill like no other (no judgment here!), compliance isn’t one of them. Triple-checking that your nonprofit’s fundraising activities met any and all fundraising and reporting requirements requires in-depth knowledge and laser focus. That’s why compliance officers make over $70,000 a year!

Mediator and conciliator: $49,410 per year

As a fundraiser, you want everyone to be happy. You want happy clients, happy donors, happy volunteers, happy grantors, and happy colleagues. And yet. Luckily, you are not only an expert in raising funds—you’re an expert in raising spirits and resolving conflict. That’s a specialized skill that will net you about $50k a year in the legal industry.

Event planner: $49,470 per year

Event planning is to fundraising what mozzarella is to pizza (though we’d never turn down a vegan pie). As an event planner, you’d take a small pay cut—but you’d also get a lot of swag from all those conventions and meetings.

Writer: $69,510 per year

Newsletters and emails and annual reports, oh my! To raise money for a just cause, fundraisers need to be skilled with the written word, able to craft persuasive prose and meaningful missives whenever needed.

Database administrator: $101,000 per year

A lot of fundraising is knowing how to manage your data and what to do with it—and oi vey, is it time-consuming. As a database administrator/architect, you could be raking it in while organizing those data systems … but you’d also need new glasses every week from staring at so many rows of numbers for hours on end. Luckily, you have Funraise, which makes database management a breeze thanks to its intuitive, flexible donor CRM.

Historian: $63,940 per year

Do you open your donor coffee dates with a one-minute history of the labor movement? Or perhaps your friends have grown tired of hearing about how animal protection first entered the American lexicon in December 1641, when the Massachusetts General Court’s “Body of Liberties” officially prohibited "any Tirranny or Crueltie towards any bruite Creature which are usuallie kept for man's use”? Hey, you’re a historian—congratulations!

Editor: $63,350 per year

Communication is a key part of the fundraiser job, and you’re the final line of defense when it comes to dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s. Being an editor requires meticulous attention to detail and nets you over $60,000 a year.

Budget analyst: $79,940 per year

While most nonprofits have a bare-bones finance staff, fundraisers are responsible for the ins and outs (and ups and downs) of fundraising-related expenses. From planning events line by line to estimating revenue from annual campaigns, you know your way around a budget just like a budget analyst.

Computer support specialist: $57,910 per year

It’s all about digital fundraising these days, making many a fundraiser the go-to person when someone can’t connect to Wi-Fi or they keep getting the blue screen of death. As the de facto, on-call IT person in your office, you’re acting as a computer support specialist.

Grant writer: $78,060 per year

Technical writers know their subject matter inside, outside, backwards, and forwards—just like fundraisers need to know their nonprofit when applying for grants. All that highly specialized knowledge pays off, and you’ll make almost $80,000 a year.

We know you’re itching to get out that calculator and see what the total value is. First, though, we’re gonna push back a little and remind you that you are priceless.

Ok, your grand total, if you were paid to do all of these full-time, would be $1,028,280.

As you can see, you, fundraiser, are a rockstar, and you can go wherever you want to go. But in the end, we have a feeling you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Sure, you could make a bit more dough if you switched fields, but then you wouldn’t be spending your days doing what you love: making the world a better place to live.

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