State of Fundraising Roundtable Wrap-Up

A recent study by CompassPoint looked at the state of fundraising and fundraising professionals. The study, “UnderDeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising,” found that about half of chief fundraisers are considering leaving the profession completely. Organizations are also seeing open fundraising positions remain unfilled for months. According to Marla Cornelius, a senior project director at CompassPoint Nonprofit Services and co-author of the study, the results of the study go beyond staffing issues to the heart of culture.
“’Too many organizations lack a culture of philanthropy, which means that development directors don’t have the conditions they need to succeed,’ she says. ‘It’s a vicious cycle.’”
On Wednesday, April 24, YNPN Atlanta held a panel and discussion group on “The State of Fundraising.” We were joined by three Atlanta nonprofit fundraising professionals:
- John Clark, Associate Vice President for Development, Georgia State University - Subie Green, President, Center for the Visually Impaired (CVI) - Elizabeth Pearce, Campaign Director, Coxe Curry & Associates
All three panelists agreed that the study struck a chord and was completely on point with its key findings. One major challenge the panelists added that they are seeing is a shift in fundraising staffs having the primary or sole responsibility for raising money instead of the Board of Directors. A major reason for this is that a proliferation of nonprofit organizations has diluted the effectiveness of Board members. Too many of the same people are being asked to serve on 3, 4, 5 or 6 boards, which dilute their fundraising abilities and opportunities.
GSU's Jon Clark speaks with YNPN members during a breakout at the Fundraising Roundtable event. GSU's Jon Clark speaks with YNPN members during a breakout at the Fundraising Roundtable event.
After hearing from the panelists about the study and the current state of fundraising, we broke into three discussion groups. The event participants had the opportunity to discuss the CompassPoint study in depth with one of our experts,  as well as ask relevant questions about  beginning and growing a career in fundraising.
The key ideas that came out of these discussions were:
- Make the ask - Take a risk - Role play or practice the ask (especially with Board members) - Everyone in the organization is in 'sales' (not just the fundraising staff) - Fundraising is a skill set and a profession - Find a mentor in the field and don’t be afraid to ask - Invest fully in the mission of the organization - Fundraising = relationships - Relationships encompass all areas of work - Focus on quality relationships vs. quantity - The structure of an organization affects the capacity to fundraise - Do your homework when job seeking about the organization(s) you want to work for - Find the right fit in a job – you are interviewing the organization as much as they are interviewing you
To read the Chronicle of Philanthropy article highlighting the key points of the CompassPoint study, click here.
In a related topic, a recent TED Talk by activist and fundraiser Dan Pallotta, “The way we think about charity is dead wrong,” calls out the double standard that drives our broken relationship to charities. Too many nonprofits, he says, are rewarded for how little they spend -- not for what they get done. Instead of equating frugality with morality, he asks us to start rewarding charities for their big goals and big accomplishments (even if that comes with big expenses). In this bold talk, he says: Let's change the way we think about changing the world. Watch this dynamic and forward thinking talk:

- Kate Balzer, YNPN Atlanta Member