Philanthropy beat: Nonprofits often ill-prepared to fund group and make it grow, new report finds


 

Most nonprofits pin their hopes for fundraising on one position — the development director. But a new survey shows that these jobs are typically revolving doors and that directors often feel like one-person, moneymaking machines.

Half of all development directors surveyed said they plan to leave their jobs in two years or less, according to a new report, “UnderDeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising.”

A big reason is that the directors often get little help from the rest of the organization, the report said.

“The study shows that the fundraising problems facing nonprofit organizations are more extensive and more entrenched than anyone imagined,” said Jeanne Bell, CEO of the California-based CompassPoint Nonprofit Services and the co-author of the report.

CompassPoint, with the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, spearheaded the survey of 2,700 nonprofit executives and development directors, as well as conversations with executives in 11 focus groups.

It paints a picture of a nonprofit community often ill prepared to fund their own organization and make it grow. It found:

• One in four nonprofits had no fundraising plan in place; one in five had no fundraising database.

• One in four executive directors said they had little to no competency as a fundraiser.

• Three of four executive directors said their board members weren’t doing enough to help.

Finding a development director with the skills needed to do the job was a challenge for many. One in four executive directors said their development director had little or no experience with donor research and securing donor gifts. And 25 percent of the executives said their previous development director was fired.

“As a sector, we need to think differently about how to help organizations create the conditions for long-term fundraising success,” Bell said.

Bell said that CompassPoint will hold a webinar this spring to generate ideas for doing that.

 

Jean Hopfensperger • 612-673-4511

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