Who needs to major in fundraising?

I was a music performance major. Now I work in fundraising.

Go ahead and ask me: What’s the connection?

I have my own opinions on the connection, but some could consider my entire undergraduate experience a big waste of time for my career. That’s what more than one prospective employer wanted to know about early in my career. My answers didn’t really satisfy them. (They were probably thinking, “This guy’s a flake.”)

Nowadays, you can major in fundraising at many universities. And then there’s the CFRE and other certifications, available to anyone willing to do the work.

How important are these things? Read this important post from the Veritus Group Blog, at No Degree, CFRE, or Accreditation Needed:

…knowing how to DO something well and knowing how to BE the person I want to be – that comes primarily through experience. It’s true that educational inputs of any kind can help a person do and be better. But, in my experience, it’s the hands-on, real-world experience that is the best indicator about a person’s ability to perform.

I’ve worked with amazing people — with and without fundraising degrees or certifications. I’ve also worked with people who, well, let’s say they couldn’t find their backside with both hands — also with and without certifications.

I haven’t seen any correlation between excellence/competence and the presence or absence of certification.

If someone has what it takes to be good at fundraising — the attitude, passion, work ethic, ability to learn, etc. — you’ll make it work no matter what your major is, and with our without certification. If you get the certification, you’ll use all you’ve learned to your advantage. Whatever else you’ve learned — no matter how disconnected it might be from fundraising — you’ll find useful material in it for your fundraising career.

If you don’t have it, no amount of schooling or test prep will make much difference.

So don’t be embarrassed about your irrelevant major. Be a great fundraiser.

If you have the itch to get your CFRE or fundraising degree, do it! It’ll help you be a great fundraiser.

If you’re early in your career and aren’t yet sure … find mentors, listen to your heart, and keep your eyes open. You’ll know before long if fundraising is for you.

If it isn’t, that’s okay. Keep exploring. Life is too short to waste doing something you’re not good at.


Comments

4 responses to “Who needs to major in fundraising?”

  1. I was also a music performance major at one point and now I work on fundraising! Would love to know what you think the connection between these two worlds is. Thanks for your great content!

  2. I was also a music performance major at one point and now I work on fundraising! Would love to know what you think the connection between these two worlds is. Thanks for your great content!

  3. Good question. Music gives you several things:
    – Poise in “performance” situations.
    – Direct personal evidence that practice makes perfect. Unlike most academic projects, which have a time scale of days to weeks long, musical improvement is a project that spans years and decades.
    – Shows the power of looking below the surface as you apply learning from music theory and history to the experience of listening.
    – Sensitizes your ear for rhythm and cadence, which makes you a better writer (and speaker).
    Anything to add to those?

  4. Good question. Music gives you several things:
    – Poise in “performance” situations.
    – Direct personal evidence that practice makes perfect. Unlike most academic projects, which have a time scale of days to weeks long, musical improvement is a project that spans years and decades.
    – Shows the power of looking below the surface as you apply learning from music theory and history to the experience of listening.
    – Sensitizes your ear for rhythm and cadence, which makes you a better writer (and speaker).
    Anything to add to those?

Leave a Reply

What this blog is about

The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

Blog policies

Subscribe

Get new posts by email:

About the blogger

Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


Archives

Blogroll

Categories


Search the blog

The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

Recent Comments

About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

Blog Roll

someone’s blog