I am a fundraiser… it’s in my blood. I was the kid who couldn’t wait to participate in the school fundraiser in middle school. I lived out in the country where a block was 4 miles and houses were sprinkled around. I pounded the pavement and approached everyone I knew and some I didn’t. I won the top fundraiser for my grade and came in 2nd for the school only to lose every year to one guy who’s family owned a popular local business and was grade ahead of me. I love raising money… and yet I’m not raising funds anymore.
In August, the Chronicle of Philanthropy released a study on the profession of fundraising. They found that fundraisers are fed up. In fact, they report that 51% are planning to leave their current organization in the next two years and 30% say they will leave the field.
For nonprofits, this is a problem. But with a few tweaks, you can change this for your development staff. (Keep reading for my 3 tips to help loosen those “nots.”)
We development people are a quirky breed. We hone a craft that every person in society thinks they too can do. I can’t count the number of times when I’ve told someone I was a fundraiser and they told me about the bake sale or car wash they did that brought in money for a charity. While their efforts and work are great, this highlights one of the biggest challenges in the development field. Fundraising is a science and a craft. It takes a professional who is a statistician, storyteller, and socially savvy to be successful in this field.
We are also a group of people who are passionate about the organizations for which we raise money. It is insulting to us when organizations think we are simply hired guns who will produce buckets full of money. In fact, 93% of fundraisers say they can only work for a nonprofit when they have a strong belief in its mission — even though we admit the actual job is similar no matter the organization.
The truth is: organizations need fundraisers. They need an individual or even better a team of individuals who are dedicated to sharing with donors the organization’s work. It is time for nonprofits to work on their relationships with their fundraisers and reevaluate how development is performed in their organizations.