“Extremely disturbing” said my internal voice after reviewing the recently released study, “Underdeveloped – A National Study of Challenges Facing nonprofit Fundraising” by the Evelyn & Walter HAAS Jr. Fund and CompassPoint Nonprofit Services.
Click Here to access the report.
Per the report, the study “reveals that many nonprofit organizations are stuck in a vicious cycle that threatens their ability to raise the resources they need to succeed.”
The study illustrates that Development Director turnover is not only high, but the qualified talent pool is insufficient to meet the demands of specific nonprofits. It also indicates that Development Directors lack the skills necessary (according to the Executive Directors) to do their jobs and that the smaller nonprofits loose out to the larger nonprofits in the competition for more seasoned development professionals.
I have a deep commitment to advance my profession. I am involved as a donor and volunteer with many nonprofit organizations. I am deeply devoted to the nonprofit for which I raise money. With that said, the initial findings do not surprise me. What did surprise me were the huge, shocking numbers behind the study.
The number of nonprofit organizations has steadily increased over the last 10 years. As federal deficit woes and public sector greed continues, the need for nonprofits is going to increase. With that will be a need for a true understanding of philanthropy, and how to recruit it.
Below are some actions that nonprofits, professionals and volunteers can take immediately to reserved the trends outlined in the study.
- Understand the Executive Director’s Role in Fundraising. The ED/CEO must have a true, up-to-date understanding about philanthropy, the process, and the philosophy. Go to your local Association of Fundraising Professionals (www.afpnet.org) to seek low cost professional education resources.
- Go for the CFRE. This credential, Certified Fundraising Executive, is the only standard to verify that a development professional has met the criteria and continually meets the criteria of a qualified fundraiser (see www.CFRE.org). If you are a development professional, work toward earning and maintaining this standard. If you are a hiring manager or Executive Director or Board Member make sure you give first priorities to CFRE candidates.
- Provide an Environment for Learning – Smaller organizations can get a huge benefit from hiring the right candidate with less skills as long as they provide for professional development via a professional organization or certificate program (located at many colleges and universities).
- Embrace the term, “Development is not a Department” – The development director is the operations manager of the development program, however, it is the executive team, the line staff and the volunteers that help to connect prospective donors to the organization.
I would love to hear other professionals’ insights about ways to combat this trend. This is an issue that is not going away, so let’s all dig in and make this profession successful. Our economy is counting on it!