While it’s true that fundraising can and does take many forms, at the end of the day, it’s still the process of convincing supporters, companies, other charities and government agencies to give to your organization. It’s hard work that takes special skills and tools, as well as a nuanced approach.
For anyone involved in fundraising, getting better at it is an ongoing goal and challenge, which is why most fundraisers are delighted to learn that something as common as getting more education can actually make you better at it. Here are seven different ways getting further education can make you a better fundraiser.
1. Greater Knowledge
One of the primary benefits you gain when you go back to school to complete a master’s degree, whether it’s in Management or some other area, is an increase in knowledge. Knowing more, besides offering you a full range of benefits in your chosen industry or field, also makes you a more engaging person to know and interact with.
This is a key asset when it comes to developing fundraising relationships because nearly everyone enjoys the company of a well-rounded person. It’s an asset that will inevitably make interacting with potential and current donors a more profitable endeavor.
2. Informed Practice
While the old adage, “Practice makes perfect,” is routinely tossed about as the path to doing something well, what really should be stated is more along the lines of, “Perfect practice makes perfect.” After all, practicing something incorrectly or inefficiently isn’t likely to yield the results you seek.
In order to achieve your desired results, then, your practice has to be well-informed and an advanced degree can definitely offer you the information you need to develop an informed practice.
3. A Bigger Network
When you go back to get an advanced degree, one of the many advantages that a degree will afford you includes gaining a bigger network of people to learn from, bounce ideas off of, collaborate with and ask for help from. From fellow students and the organizations and businesses they work for to the administrators and faculty at the institution where you’re enrolled, when you pursue an advanced degree, you put yourself in the path of an entirely new set of people. Many of those people aren’t just assets in your degree completion; they’re assets in your fundraising efforts afterwards.
4. Improved Grant Skills
Writing for grants is an essential part of raising funds regardless of the type of organization for which you work, and if there’s one thing you’ll do plenty of when trying to finish an advanced degree, it’s writing. While it’s true that grant writing is a specific type, any and all writing will help you get better at the skill overall. And, if you choose a degree that specializes in nonprofit work of any kind, you’ll be afforded plenty of opportunities to practice honing your grant writing chops.
Teamwork is one of the most important parts of any fundraising effort and with most advanced degrees, you’ll be required to brush up on what it’s like to be part of a team. From group projects to study groups, sharing a workload can result in a lot more progress for everyone.
If you can learn to be a great teammate and great motivator for your team while you’re getting your education, employing that learning to your fundraising efforts will make it seem as though those efforts take on a life of their own.
6. Cutting Edge Data
Higher education continues to be one of the sanctuaries of up-to-date information and data. When you’re working as a fundraiser, being armed with cutting edge data — and the means to continue getting that data — will sway donors to your cause. While it’s true that storytelling is also an essential part of fundraising success, the statistics and data that make your organization’s efforts necessary are just as important as an emotionally connecting story. Getting your degree will help ensure you have the research chops and the information you need to be effective in your work.
7. The Need to Prioritize
Most students getting advanced degrees have a life outside of school that includes a job, a family, bills, hobbies and more, which means that pursuing a master’s degree is going to either make you a genius at prioritizing or it’s going to sink your efforts completely. As a fundraiser, prioritizing is key to success, too, so if you can figure it out while you’re a student, you’ll already have the discipline you need down the road.
Education offers those who get it scores of benefits that are both internal and external. For fundraisers, getting more schooling is a form of boot camp that makes the work of getting resources for their organizations feel more natural, which makes success more likely.