All in the name of charity
Raising money for charity is not that different from selling goods and services for a profit. 'Raising funds is a type of marketing,' says Winnie Wong, manager for communications and resource development at Hong Kong Red Cross. 'You are marketing the brand and the services of a charitable organisation in order to get donations.'
She says fund-raising managers find out how much resources an organisation needs for a given year and develop a plan to raise the required amount.
They have to identify their target audience and, where the public is concerned, solicit donations through direct marketing campaigns. They build and maintain databases of potential corporate sponsors, send them solicitation letters and follow up with courtesy calls. Much of their job involves organising large events, from seminars and sports events to charity and raffle sales and private parties, to support the charity's cause.
Fund-raising managers are also hired by educational institutions. Daisy Chan, assistant director of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology's office of university development and public affairs, says her job focuses on seeking donations from wealthy individuals and university alumni. Here, the reliance is on the development of a network of high-net-worth individuals.
Fund-raising managers research their philanthropic objectives, explain the work of the university and try to find a match between the two. This can be a long-term relationship-building process involving socialisation to convince the individual to make a large donation.
Or they may already have a philanthropic trust that readily makes a donation.
In charities, the entry point for fund-raising managers is an assistant role that requires one to two years' experience in marketing - preferably in electronic marketing.
They may then step into a more senior planning and managerial role after supporting the execution of donation campaigns for three to four years.
From there, they become the head of fund-raising and deal with strategic aspects such as developing new donation-soliciting techniques. There are no set career paths for fund-raising managers in universities. Fund-raising managers can be paid anywhere from HK$25,000 to HK$45,000 a month at non-governmental organisations.
At universities, they are paid monthly salaries of between HK$20,000 and HK$40,000.
Communication is key
It helps if fundraising managers are easy-going and accommodating, as they may have to work with demanding corporate donors. Those working for non-governmental organisations should know the sector well to help the organisation stand out and to convince people to donate.
In the education sector, you have to be passionate about your job. Otherwise you won't be able to put up with disappointments arising from the many rejections you will likely come across in seeking funding from tycoons. Good writing and communications skills are a must for writing funding proposals and everyday correspondence.
Valuable courses for industry professionals
The Hong Kong Council of Social Service Institute offers short programmes in fundraising, such as proposal writing, on an occasional basis. For more information, visit their website at http://www.hkcss.org.hk/institute.
In the education sector, the non-profit, United States-based Council for Advancement and Support of Education (Case) periodically runs seminars and training workshops around the world, including in Asia, where industry professionals can share best practices on areas including developing stronger relationships with alumni and donors and raising funds for campus projects.