Nonprofit Fundraising to Private Sector

First post here, so please forgive any true newbie questions I'm about to pose here.

I have a BA in Social Sciences from a small LAC and did a year of law school at a T20 school before withdrawing (realized it wasn't the right time for me to do more education yet). I have been working in fundraising (or 'development,' as it's known in higher education) at a major State U for about 2 and a half years since graduating now. My job touches a wide range of buckets in this field - I manage a small budget that determines our participation in direct mail and other creative content, work with our Dean and leadership on high-level strategy, and most notably, identify and manage relationships with alumni and other donor prospects with the ultimate goal of soliciting funding for our institutional priorities.

I love my job but I'm not thrilled with my salary (perks of being in the nonprofit world, I guess - even in a behemoth university). I have a good friend who works in investment management for a large pension fund and is studying for CFA Level I who suggested to me recently that I might (at some point) be a good fit to move into PE 'sales,' which I assume means some sort of investor relations role?

I understand that's only one option potentially available to me, but I'd like to figure out what would be next if I decide to move into corporate/private sector work. I don't have a business UG background, so I'm thinking that further education is probably a good idea - does an MBA make the most sense? A couple of other friends I've talked to have also said that the CFA is a better bet than an MBA at this point, but it seems like that only covers a small portion of the skills that graduate business education would, particularly for someone who didn't study business in UG. Is that correct? I'm also not sure if there's a way to try to make a move into the private sector without stopping for more education first - would I be looking at a backward move (to some sort of admin role) if I tried to do that?

Lots of questions, obviously, but any general insight anyone has would be much appreciated! Particularly if anyone has or knows someone who has made a move like this from nonprofit/fundraising work into the private sector world. Thanks!

Comments (17)

Best Response
Dec 31, 1969

As someone currently working at a non-profit, and volunteers and donates to others, I can say it's not a negative.

From an applicant standpoint, you still get access to OCR, and having non-profits on your resume, but directly applicable experience adds flavor to your profile. Your internship accomplishments are impressive, and qualitatively speak to great work ethic and autonomy. I would zero in on any projects where you took the initiative to kick off a project, or better still, pitched something to management, and they let you run with it.

It's a small world, so don't be surprised if in the interview stages you get people who are genuinely interested in or know someone impacted by your NP's work.

The biggest obstacle you may find is explaining why you are making the transition, but I imagine you have compelling reasons already. Realistically, the people making the hiring decisions will not ding you for working hard on an issue you are passionate about. They get that it doesn't need to be your long-term career choice since you'll have bills and shit to pay for after you graduate. Non-profits reward tenure with access and influence, rather than tangibles like cash.

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Dec 31, 1969

Amazing answer. Thanks bud. +SB

I am the real boss baby.

Dec 31, 1969

This is possible. Have you considered investor relations at private equity/hedge funds? Talk to your donors, and see what they think. They will respect you wanting to make the move and could provide some contacts. But again, definitely possible.

Dec 31, 1969

I think you have a decent shot. The main thing is that you have to be able to sell yourself to them, after all, that is the line of work you would be getting into. Focus on the contacts that you have amassed over the years and give them examples of how you extracted difficult and exquisitely large donations in the past. They should eat that up. Although you do not have any actual finance experience, your background actually fits pretty well.

However, you definitely shouldn't neglect the finance side of things. Start reading the Wall Street Journal to pick up the lingo and get a sense of what is going on in the markets. Force yourself to read it from cover to cover every day and in a few months you should get the hang of things. Watch some CNBC.

You can turn a decent shot into a great one by picking up the CFA Level 1. It would show a huge commitment to the asset management industry. In fact, if you are really set on PWM, getting the full certification would probably be more valuable then some night MBA. You already have two degrees. Don't put too much stock into what career counselors say.

Good luck.

Dec 31, 1969

Try something like "just like bankers pitch (and win) billion dollar companies, I pitch billion dollar families/foundations and this is the success I've had....etc." Could be useful during the "why banking/pwm now?" piece.

Dec 31, 1969

I worked in PWM before and one of the relationship managers worked as a fund raiser before joining PWM. And yup like what the previous guys mentioned, you've got to tell the recruiters about how you managed to attract funds etc.

PWM is all about contacts, if you can show to them that you have a potential list of clients, they will definitely be interested in you. Good luck!

Dec 31, 1969

Thanks for the tips. I've been a subscriber to the WSJ for a couple of years now and am already conversant in the markets. Also, with the MBA I should have emphasized that the reason why I'm pursuing it from this particular institution is that it is top-10 in finance, which may help someone like me in the transition.

Interesting thoughts on the CFA, too. Isic06, thanks for sharing the note about the other former fundraiser. Got me thinking if anyone else has come across former fund raiser working in any other areas of finance.

Dec 31, 1969

Looks like you are pretty set. Make sure that the school you are attending gets on-campus recruiting for the firms you want to work for. If you could somehow manage to do the CFA and the MBA, I'm not sure what more they could ask for.

Dec 31, 1969

This is all very promising. In your opinions, is the CFA Level I all that would be necessary for me at this stage in the game?

I have been reading a lot about PWM associate positions on Vault and other places. I reached out to a couple alums from my B School working in PWM to get a better sense of the actual day-to-day, but they were pretty non-responsive (and I don't blame them given the current market).

ML and JPM seem to be the most active employers in my metro area. My impression is that both employers offer a training program and some mentoring, as well as an initial book of business (that none of the other associates want to deal with). The expectation is that the associates develop their own book of business and are weaned off their 50-75K base salary within 2 years through cold calling and personal networking. Am I close to being right?

Dec 31, 1969

Yes, that sounds about right. There are also some candidates who move towards a more analytical career path within the division as well. However, given your experience, developing a book of business seems to be exactly what they will want you for.

CFA Level 1 would be sufficient as it would serve as a signalling mechanism regarding your aptitude and interest for finance. Once you are onboard, they should sponsor the rest of the process as you move up. Getting the full charter will be very valuable.

I would also recommend getting in touch with Credit Suisse and the new Morgan Stanley/Smith Barney JV as both seem to be rather keen on expansion in PB/PWM. If you are a good coldcaller, reaching out to branch offices directly would be a good way to demonstrate the skills you would be using on the job.

Overall, I get the impression that you have thought this through pretty well and have things figured out. If you have any specific questions, I can try to reach out to my buddies and see what they have to say.

Dec 31, 1969
macro:

Yes, that sounds about right. There are also some candidates who move towards a more analytical career path within the division as well. However, given your experience, developing a book of business seems to be exactly what they will want you for.

CFA Level 1 would be sufficient as it would serve as a signalling mechanism regarding your aptitude and interest for finance. Once you are onboard, they should sponsor the rest of the process as you move up. Getting the full charter will be very valuable.

I would also recommend getting in touch with Credit Suisse and the new Morgan Stanley/Smith Barney JV as both seem to be rather keen on expansion in PB/PWM. If you are a good coldcaller, reaching out to branch offices directly would be a good way to demonstrate the skills you would be using on the job.

Overall, I get the impression that you have thought this through pretty well and have things figured out. If you have any specific questions, I can try to reach out to my buddies and see what they have to say.

If fresh undergrad also wants to try PWM, do they start from cold-calling also? whats the more analytical path within it? thanks so much for sharing.

Dec 31, 1969

Cold-calling is the best way to get into any entry-level finance job sans pre-existing connections or campus recruiting. It is particularly relevant for PWM because they are more receptive to cold-callers, and recognize it as a skill that is critical to their business model. The analytical track is more focused on securities analysis and research over client service. I am not sure if the same division exists within all PWM firms, but a friend of mine at one of the largest BB PWM divisions is taking this track right now. Keep in mind that PWM, PB and AM divisions within the various BBs have widely diverging labels and roles, a cheap method of "product differentiation" if you will.

Dec 31, 1969
macro:

Cold-calling is the best way to get into any entry-level finance job sans pre-existing connections or campus recruiting. It is particularly relevant for PWM because they are more receptive to cold-callers, and recognize it as a skill that is critical to their business model. The analytical track is more focused on securities analysis and research over client service. I am not sure if the same division exists within all PWM firms, but a friend of mine at one of the largest BB PWM divisions is taking this track right now. Keep in mind that PWM, PB and AM divisions within the various BBs have widely diverging labels and roles, a cheap method of "product differentiation" if you will.

thanks so much. i was asking about what was pwm analysts' daily job...is the major part also cold-calling like associates or...?whats the different skills required for institutional sales people and pwm sales?

Dec 31, 1969

I was a PWM SA and base on this most analyst will be attached to one senior relationship mgr (RM). Even if you aren't you will probably do lots of adhoc tasks for these seniors.

During the 1st year - you will probably learn more of the basic stuffs such as Account opening, company's system, inputting trades etc. At the same time, you will probably do stuffs such as market updates, breaking news - all of these to update relationship mgrs as they are busy entertaining their clients. Other task include - getting leads, (searching for all the CEOs, MDs, Senior Mgmt of targeted companies etc) in which the RMs will probably do the cold calling.. not forgetting, you will go thru lessons, selling skills etc.

Of course you'll be involved in power point presentations and so on but dont expect the RMs to bring you along.

Eventually you'll be an assistant to a group of RMs and yup inputting trades, going to equities, bonds etc recommendations, talking to structured products team... most importantly impressing the RMs in the hope that they will pass you some of their clients.. cold calling will definitely be a part of your job but i dont expect that in the first year

I was working in the analytical part of the team (consists of equities researchers, portfolio mgrs, structured products team all) and I feel that its a good start before moving to the relationship mgrs position.. but that is of course my opinion.

institutional sales and pwm sales... in institutional, you probably get more specialised, more technical, PWM sales is more to building relationships, cold calling... IMO, u can move from institutional to pwm but not the other way rd..

Dec 31, 1969
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