The Four-Quarter Career View
I love football and mathematics. Fundraising is all about numbers, which is right up my alley. Working with numbers was always easy for me. Recently I was thinking about my career in the fundraising profession. Of course I thought of my career in terms of football. If you have a long career in this profession, you can easily think of it in terms of time, growth and opportunity. To have a career in this field you must have an interest in attributes that point you in a career direction.
According to the Commongood Careers' Knowledge Center, if you love to build relationships and have enthusiasm for a cause, a career in nonprofit fundraising may be right for you. Because fundraising is essential to the success of an organization’s mission, typically there are high-paying jobs open at nonprofit organizations. The Commongood Careers' Knowledge Center notes that demand for talented development professionals far outpaces the supply, so fundraising and development can be an exciting place to start a nonprofit career—with a fast track to the top. A career in this field can make a real impact on an organization, as well as in the community it serves. It is interesting that so many people take so many diverse roads to a career path in development.
A 2006 study by Aleah Horstman, Ph.D., director of major and planned gifts for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains in Denver, covered how long fundraisers were staying in their current positions and their primary reasons for leaving a position. It indicated the average length of service for participants in the study was 3.6 years. In an earlier 2002 study, “Employees: Recruitment, Retention and Loyalty,” (Drizin), the average employee tenure in the study was 3.4 years. In the Horstman study, variables that predict fundraisers’ intents to stay at current jobs included job satisfaction, commitment to mission, distributive justice, promotional chances, job involvement, support of supervisor and search behavior.
Anyone thinking about a career in development has a number of choices based upon personality, style and interest. Some individuals focus on special events and donor recruitment and retention. Other individuals focus on direct mail, social media or telemarketing. Those with face-to-face-interaction interests may enter major-gift or planned-gift positions. For many, a supportive role is in order through development service opportunities. There is an array of educational opportunities for young professionals to expand their work possibilities. If you think of nonprofit development as a career and not one position, here’s something to consider: According to About Careers, the median number of years that wage and salary workers have been with their current employers is 4.6 years. The median tenure for workers ages 25 to 34 is 3.2 years. The point is: A long career may consist of 10 positions or more.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, IN plus Adjunct Professor for Olivet Nazarene University. Contact Duke at email@example.com or 317-224-1029.