Is Nonprofit Fundraising Underdeveloped?
I am a student of the nonprofit profession. I constantly attempt to practice and teach ways to enhance the nonprofit universe. I continue to work my day job while assisting other organizations with their needs. People that know me contact me on a regular basis with questions on how to improve productivity in their shops. I have given away millions of dollars of free advice and will continue this activity. All of us do the same thing all the time. It is in our blood and nature to attempt to better understand how we do what we do.
One of the main themes that I continue to tell new employees to their shops is to build a culture of philanthropy. I was recently meeting with someone in my office about that very subject at the end of a long day. When I arrived home and picked up the mail I was surprised and happy to read the new issue of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) publication titled The Steward.
The focus of this issue was a review of the national study titled "UnderDeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising." This report was conducted by CompassPoint Nonprofit Services and the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund. The report revealed that many organizations are stuck in a cycle that threatens their ability to raise the resources they need to succeed. One of the main themes of the study indicated that the role of fundraising is not well-enough understood across the nonprofit sector. Susan Earl Hosbach, CFRE, chair of the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy and president/CEO of the Pearlpoint Cancer Center, Nashville, Tenn., noted that "promoting an understanding that fundraising is not solely the task of one department or one person can be a challenge. It requires thought leadership, patience, effective communication and a commitment to forge strong and lasting relationships."
What sets UnderDeveloped apart from other fundraising-related surveys is the input and emphasis coming from both development directors and chief executive officers of the same organizations. The results note that a significant disconnect exists between leadership and development leadership of these organizations. Andrew Watt, president and CEO of AFP, stated that "it's increasingly clear that staff and boards in many organizations do not understand how fundraising works. Creating a culture of philanthropy must be the responsibility of everyone involved in the organization—all of the staff, top-down, and most importantly, all of the board members."
UnderDeveloped identified 10 calls to action for the nonprofit sector to fundamentally change its beliefs and practices related to donor relations and fundraising:
- Embrace fund development
- Elevate the field of fundraising
- Strengthen and diversify the talent pool
- Train boards differently
- Apply the transition management framework to the development director position
- Invest strategically in grantee fundraising capacity
- Leverage technological innovation-embrace creativity
- Set realistic goals for development
- Share accountability for fundraising results
- Exercise fundraising leadership
A key to change is the education plus engaging of non-fundraising staff in the fundraising process. This will take time and a great deal of patience. When you approach this scenario, work internally then externally. Understand that each person has different levels of education, experience and interest in promoting fundraising. For many years, those in non-fundraising departments thought it was solely the director of development's job to become Santa Claus and bring in bags of money each week. Like links on a chain, if everyone would understand the role they could play in the process, the level of success would greatly increase. The first step in this endeavor is to have your CEO become a champion for this culture change with staff, board and volunteers. Look at best-of-class successful programs and emulate them.
As a proud 33-year member of AFP and former president of the Indiana Chapter of AFP, I encourage my peers to join AFP and obtain a CFRE designation. By becoming a member, you can constantly read publications like The Steward. The most important role a fundraising professional can have is one of teacher and mentor. We have no choice but to learn to grow our fundraising programs. You cannot do this alone. Check out the resource center at AFP. They can answer any question you have as we evolve in this dynamic profession. In many ways, nonprofit fundraising is underdeveloped and stuck in unchanging practices. Martha M. Kirkland, executive vice president of AFP, reminds us that it is now spring, a time for new beginnings and fresh starts. Let's begin to change the culture of philanthropy in our organization today!
F. Duke Haddad, EdD, CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. In addition, he is also president of Duke Haddad and Associates, LLC, and freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the past 13 years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration, master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University in business administration, with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.