Friday, February 1, 2013

Embrace Fundraising...or Don't!

Posted by Andrew Watt, FInstF

There's a new study out which I'm sure will create a lot of conversation within the sector. It shows that charities are having a hard time finding qualified development directors and that vacancies for fundraising positions are averaging six months and often longer. Smaller organizations are having an especially difficult time, which is further compounded by many development directors indicating they are planning to leave their current jobs within two years.

There's definitely more work AFP and others need to do in terms of reaching out to and training fundraisers, especially those working with smaller organizations. That's one of the reasons we created our Small Organizational memberships. 

But I think Robbe Healey gets it just right when she says, “If we embrace fundraising for the long-term, then no matter how small our organization or our budget, we can find success.” (emphasis added)

Look through our awards winners over the years. The organizations we’ve honored, no matter how big or small, have created cultures of philanthropy, where staff and the board are all involved in fundraising and have made long-term investments in philanthropy. Our outstanding fundraising professionals, whether chapter or international honorees, have all succeeded in environments where they’ve either created or strengthened existing cultures of philanthropy. 

Even the respondents in the survey underscored this: when fundraising infrastructure was strong and the organization embraced fundraising as a long-term program, their results were higher. 

Fundraising success isn’t a question of have’s and have-not’s. Sure, larger organizations may raise more money, but that’s because they have more staff, resources, etc. But smaller organizations can be just as successful with the resources they have.

Fundraising success is a question of belief. Believe in fundraising, embrace it and invest in it long-term and you are bound to find success. Ignore it, or pay it lip service, and you’ll likely find a revolving door at your development director position. 

1 comment:

Elaine Fogel said...

Good point, Andrew. I think the situation is compounded by a lack of investment mentality in the sector overall. Unless nonprofits invest in their people and infrastructure, they will likely remain behind the eight ball.

Organizations need smart leaders and fundraisers who are given the necessary budgets and tools to do their jobs effectively. Would you hire a carpenter and tell him that you expect him to do the job even though you can't afford to pay for nails and screws?

Fundraisers cannot work in vacuums. Cultivation, stewardship, relationship building, and marketing take a few bucks, even at the lower end. Sometimes organizations need to consolidate their programs and services temporarily in order to invest in the these important elements. Then, after more funds come in, they can add those programs back in.

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