Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Fundraiser

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

Occupation: Fundraiser

Overview: Fundraisers are hired by businesses, organizations, and non-profits to raise money on their behalf. Their job duties can include organizing fundraising campaigns and events, training volunteers, using social media to raise money, contacting potential donors or sponsors, writing grants, creating promotional materials, and keeping records of donor information.

Because they have to decide which approach and events will work best for each client, fundraisers must be familiar with the various options and be able to evaluate what has worked in the past. Their success depends largely on their dealings with people, so fundraisers must have excellent people skills and be able to network effectively. Fundraisers may be freelance or work for a consulting firm.

Necessary Training: Some clients and firms prefer that their fundraisers have a bachelor’s degree—preferably in business, public relations, public administration or a similar area—while others are more interested in a potential fundraiser’s experience. Internships and volunteer work can give fundraisers the practice they need to develop necessary skills in this field.

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: A knack for making money, charm, empathy, exceptional memory, gaining the trust of others, good listening skills, hospitality, multitasking, promotion, reading people, writing

Helpful Character Traits:

POSITIVE: Adaptable, analytical, calm, charming, cooperative, courteous, creative, diplomatic, efficient, empathetic, enthusiastic, extroverted, generous, hospitable, idealistic, imaginative, industrious, meticulous, optimistic, organized, passionate, patient, persistent, persuasive, professional, resourceful, responsible

Sources of Friction: A big event flopping, donors promising money and not following through, failing to meet a campaign goal, clients who don’t clearly communicate their goals, clients with unrealistic expectations, micro-managing clients, taking on a client whose cause is socially unacceptable and will make fundraising difficult, secrets from a client’s or business’s past becoming public during a campaign, a venue or vendor for a scheduled event falling through at the last minute, a computer or hard drive crashing and taking one’s records with it, a fall from grace that makes networking difficult, a hardship for a big sponsor that causes them to cut their charitable giving, an injury or illness that makes it difficult for one to do one’s job, difficult or incompetent volunteers, delegating an important job to a volunteer who doesn’t follow through, learning that a large portion of the funds one has raised are going to the business owner rather than to those who need it, missing evening and weekend time with family due to work obligations, frequent travel causing trouble at home

People They Might Interact With: nonprofit and business owners, administrative staff, volunteers, other fundraisers and bosses at a consulting firm, vendors, venue staff, potential donors, high-profile donors (celebrities, millionaires, etc.), philanthropists

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Self-Actualization: Fundraisers are often passionate about their work and the good they’re able to do. Those who are unable to work with their preferred organizations or are assigned to clients they don’t respect may feel they’re not living up to their true potential.
  • Esteem and Recognition: If a fundraiser’s failure or shortcomings keep a worthwhile organization from receiving much-needed funds, she may begin to doubt her abilities. Esteem can also be impacted if the fundraiser is influenced by wealthy or glamorous individuals and finds herself lacking.
  • Love and Belonging: A fundraiser’s passion to help others may drive her to work too hard, putting a strain on family relationships or making romantic opportunities difficult.
  • Safety and Security: If the client has high-profile or radical enemies who don’t want them to succeed, these people may seek to sabotage fundraising efforts, catching your character in the crossfire.

Common Work-Related Settings: Airport, art gallery, ballroom, big city street, black-tie event, boardroom, community center, elevator, golf course, gymnasium, hotel room, limousine, museum, newsroom, office cubicle, parking garage, parking lot, performing arts theater, public restroom, upscale hotel lobby, waiting room, winery,  yacht

Twisting the Fictional Stereotype: Fictional fundraisers are typically associated with glitzy events for wealthy clients. But even small businesses and non-profits need money, and fundraisers need to start somewhere. What if your character started out raising funds for a local charity or cause—maybe a no-kill shelter, a health clinic, or after-school program for kids?

Visit the other Occupations in our collection HERE.


Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Fundraiser

  1. Dawn Simon says:

    The Occupation Thesaurus! Ooh, I can totally see how that could be so helpful to writers! Congratulations on another book! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.