'Execution of Tricks' Isn't Enough to Grow Giving
According to the 2014 Giving USA Report, Americans gave more than $335 billion to charity in 2013. It was the fourth consecutive year of growth in the fundraising sector, and total giving is approaching pre-recession levels.
However, that growth has not been in lockstep with other for-profit industries, and that concerns legendary fundraising consultant Robert Hartsook.
For instance, Hartsook says, the outdoor recreation industry was a $298 billion industry in 2007. At that same time, nonprofit giving was a $300 billion industry. In 2013, the outdoor recreation industry approached $800 billion, while philanthropy has been relatively flat at $335 billion, according to Giving USA numbers.
While this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison, Hartsook says it’s pretty close. So “why can’t we grow this?” He admits he doesn’t have an exact answer, but he does have some ideas.
“I think it’s the quality of training and preparation for fundraisers,” he says. “I don’t know that we’re really generating thinkers — we’re more concerned with the tricks and execution.”
That’s why Hartsook has been so active in education for the sector, including his work with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and Avila University. And this summer, the Hartsook Institute partnered with Avila University to put on the Inspired Fundraising Summit.
At the event, fundraising research guru and professor Adrian Sargeant, the first Hartsook Chair in Fundraising at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, shared three keys he gleaned from studying exceptional fundraising teams in the U.K.
1. Fundraising managers need to think. “As a profession, we have at some point really fallen into the trap of execution of tricks. We don’t always think through who is this donor, what are we helping donors accomplish,” Hartsook says. “We default to gimmicks and tricks. Adrian made an incredible impression on how important it is to have people in those leadership roles who think and consider that.”