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Career Story: Fundraiser For A Private University

Fundraiser For A Private University

Job Title: Development Officer

Type of Company: I work for a private university in Massachusetts.

Education: BA, Human Development, Boston College

Previous Experience: After graduating from college, I worked as a fundraiser in a large, non-profit organization. I left to work at private colleges and have now worked at two.

Job Tasks: I work as a development officer at a private university in Massachusetts, which means I work as a fundraiser.

In this capacity, I work with reuning classes and encourage them to give to their alma mater. At the beginning of each year, I form a committee of alumni volunteers who are willing to make phone calls to classmates and friends and solicit contributions from to the school. We set goals for each class: not only total amounts, but how many five-figure gifts we can get and what percentage of classmates will make a gift of any size. We work at this all year long, right up to the reunion itself.

I personally meet with members of the class who might be willing to donate a five- or six-figure amount, making it clear what their gifts would mean and what they'd help us to underwrite. The gifts that I seek most often help us meet the school's most urgent needs: financial aid for students and improved faculty salaries and support. I myself meet with alumni in the northeast, but others in my office travel to other parts of the country to meet with graduates there.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is knowing that the money I raise helps sustain a terrific university. My efforts go a long way to ensure that deserving students can get the financial aid they need to pay their tuition. I also get to work with alumni who are both passionate and dedicated.

So I wouldn't say that there's a "worst" part of my job. But it does have its challenges: dealing, for example, with alumni who don't feel their gifts will make a difference, or who just don't want to give.

Job Tips: Volunteer for your college in a fundraising capacity. The easiest way to do this is to be a part of your senior class gift campaign. After college, join the alumni association and volunteer your time.

Be willing to start in a support role - these are often the only ones available for recent graduates. Or, work in a smaller role in a larger, reputable non-profit to gain experience.

Be in this for the right reasons, and make sure it's a field you are passionate about. Making money, as opposed to raising money, shouldn't be a motive.

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