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Skills development: Making ICS fundraising stand out on your CV

Selling cakes, car boot sales, dinner parties and bucket collections. Whatever the idea, whatever the season, ICS volunteers are engaged in fundraising. Have you ever stopped and asked yourself why you fundraise and what you really get out of it?

Sure, you fundraise because it’s a core element of your ICS placement, but far too often, volunteers assume that success and achievement of fundraising occurs at the end of the task, once the funds are raised and money is added to your fundraising total. However, we often forget the life skills that are gained before and during a fundraiser.

Today I want to talk through what employment and life skills ICS volunteers gain from fundraising. Hopefully after reading this you’ll notice some of the skills you’ve been displaying all along!

A selection of photographs of volunteers doing fundraising activities. Including a bake sale, sponsored bike ride, climbing Snowden and doing bucket collections.

Communication and presentation

Whether you’re preparing your pitch for shops to get raffle prizes, about to go on the radio to promote your placement or speaking to local community groups about sponsorship and grants, your communication and presentation style is everything.

For ICS fundraisers, strong communication skills are an art that allow you to articulate an idea or belief as persuasively and concisely as possible. So, even if you have no luck getting raffle prizes or someone doesn’t give you a donation during your bag pack don’t become despondent! This will enhance your communication and delivery for the future.

A volunteer chatting with residents at a residential home.


We live in a world where our circumstances can change in an instant. So more often than not, you’ll be required to think on your feet, improvise and make the best of situations in the moment. Maybe your cakes got burnt, and you had to make a sudden supermarket trip or the mic at your open mic night stopped working, and you used a megaphone. All these scenarios required innovation and original thinking, and your fundraising relies on your opportunism.

If you’re facing such a dilemma, and time won’t permit you to reschedule, learning to work under pressure and run with an idea will help you to cope with the dynamic environment that is fundraising. Remember, being adaptable doesn’t mean taking unnecessary risks, it means that you’re able to see an opening and use it to your advantage.

Time To Adapt written on a wooden cube in front of a laptop
© GustavoFrazao/Shutterstock

Leadership and volunteer management

Leadership varies so much for each individual, but essentially, it’s the capacity for your absence to be noticed, to command attention and respect. Effective leadership doesn’t require you to be militant with your fundraising team and strike fear in the heart of those who help you. Rather, it’s your ability to motivate others and get them on board with your vision.

Respect stems from your knowledge and ability to put a stamp on your event. Remember that your value comes from contributing to your fundraising event’s success. So ask yourself, if I wasn’t here, would this event be run as efficiently?

Anyone that’s organised a music or comedy night, run a school fete, arranged a sponsored walk, started up a coffee morning in the local community, and many many others, has displayed leadership and volunteer management qualities.

Top tip: A great way to make a successful, donor-centric plea is to say “you” more than “I,” “us,” or “we.” This donor-centric fundraising helps develop a relationship between yourself and the prospective donor, and ultimately ensures you can maximise on your funds.
Amy - Fundraising Support Officer

Interpersonal and relationship building

Perhaps the biggest challenge of being a fundraiser is that no matter what you do or accomplish, fundraising is NEVER about you. Simply put, there is no room for ego in fundraising. Building relationships are critical to fundraising success. Donors want to be wooed. They want to feel important. They want to understand the impact of their gift. This is where a successful ICS fundraiser can shine. They are a voice for ICS and a bridge to the mission.

Interpersonal skills are honed and adapted to fit the target audience, so your approach would be different when interacting and building rapport with members of the public during a bucket collection or bag pack, as opposed to intermingling with student’s at a tabletop sale on campus or at a work lunch fundraiser. Always keep in mind who you’re targeting, and how your ICS placement relates to them. It’s their money and they want to know it’s worth giving up!

A fundraising quiz with people celebrating

Final thoughts

I’ve only listed a few of the skills you can develop through your ICS fundraising, but of course, there are many many more and I really don’t have the space in this blog post to go through them all!

I hope next time you’re doing an event you can look back, learn and see how you’ve developed from the experience.

If any of the fundraising events above caught your attention, get in touch with your Fundraising Support Officer for a step-by-step guide on how to successfully run them.

Good luck, enjoy it, and see that fundraising money fly in!

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Funded by the UK Government

ICS is funded by the UK Government's Department for International Development (DFID) which leads the UK’s work to end extreme poverty.

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