Selma Permenter Tell us about your work---what do you do?
I'm the Director of Development for Annual Giving and Information Management at a public university. My specific duties include managing the annual giving program and the data entry/information management area. I supervise two full-time development officers , two full-time development assistants and 35 part-time student assistants. I also manage a budget of $200,000. As part of my Annual Giving duties, I raise money from alumni, parents, friends and companies to help meet the needs of the university. We operate a year-round phone-athon, mail approximately 100,000 direct mail pieces a year to solicit support from our alumni and friends, and visit with donors to thank them for their past support and solicit their renewed support. What skills are needed?
To be a successful fundraiser you have to enjoy talking with people of all backgrounds. It is also important to have good written communication skills and to be able to manage your time wisely. Management and budget planning skills are also necessary. What was your major?
I received a B.A. in English and a M.S. in library and information science . How did you get started in your career?
I started working part-time in the gift processing area of the Development Office while attending graduate school. After graduation, I accepted a full-time position in the Development Office as a prospect researcher. I later moved into Annual Giving and gift processing/information management. What experience do you need in this job?
Any experience in a position that requires extensive one-on-one contact with the public would be helpful. Management experience is also useful. Describe your "typical" workday:
During my typical workday I might write a solicitation letter that will be mailed out to 30,000 prospective donors, call on an alumnus to thank them for their support of the Annual Fund, meet with a dean or faculty member to design a campaign to raise scholarship funds, or meet with staff to discuss our progress or address concerns. What is the hardest aspect of your job?
The hardest aspect of my job is balancing administrative duties with the duties that directly affect the amount of money we raise. At times it is easy to put off administrative duties, because in my office we are evaluated based on our fundraising success. It is important, however, to make time to manage the budget, and train, manage and meet with staff regularly. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
The most rewarding aspect of my job is seeing the results of our work. When I meet a student who received a scholarship that was established by Annual Fund donors I remember the reason for all of our hard work. What are your suggestions for someone considering this field?
Consider all of your options. Once you decide you want to go into fundraising, there are still other decisions to make. You could choose to work for a public university, a private university, a hospital or any number of non-profit organizations. Talk with people who are in fund development at organizations similar to those that interest you. Also consider which of the different areas of development interest you most -- annual giving, major gifts, planned giving , prospect research , and development services are all options.