Professional Advancement? It’s All Academic
In reality, such a system was largely dependent on the quality, vibrancy and diversity of the host institution, the relationship with the mentor, and the opportunities for advancement and mobility within the organization.
So, what does academic training offer that more traditional means of training might not?
To begin with, training in an academic environment blends theory and practice from multiple perspectives. Students are provided far more comprehensive — and far more intensive — exposure to management issues in development than would otherwise be permitted through any other training medium. In addition, students are advantaged by exposure to central theories, ideas and practices in business, especially gaining knowledge of and proficiency with financial issues.
Academic study also permits fundraisers at different levels of experience to learn new areas and techniques that they otherwise but not be exposed; thus, an annual-fund officer might learn — in a comprehensive and thorough fashion — about planned giving. This can help prepare senior managers to effectively integrate various philanthropic strategies for an organization’s overall fundraising efforts.
Students also benefit from enhanced networking opportunities, not only in the classroom with faculty and guest speakers, but also from interaction with other students in the program. This is a type of networking that is a hallmark of business schools and a time-tested formula for success: a forum in which future senior managers in the industry might develop meaningful and long-term professional relationships.
Completion of a professional degree in fundraising also demonstrates a commitment to the field. This is particularly attractive to employers who are eager to find and maintain fundraisers dedicated to the field and equipped with the skills necessary for success. A degree in the field demonstrates both, by suggesting both a baseline level of knowledge as well as a dedication to pursue relevant and advanced training. This is particularly valuable for career changers, who often possess transferable skills but nonetheless require a more rapid and comprehensive introduction to the field. A degree in fundraising can help facilitate and expedite this transition.