October 11, 2012

Senior Fundraisers and CEO's Don't See Eye to Eye

As turnover among fundraisers becomes a growing problem for nonprofits, a new study suggests that the revolving door in development offices may be due to a big gap in how chief executives and development officers see the process of attracting donations.

The study, conducted by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, questioned 70 community-college leaders and 137 chief fundraisers at such institutions.

The biggest difference between those interviewed came when they were asked whether the top fundraisers had the resources they needed to increase giving.

Fifty-five percent of chief executives said their fundraisers had what they needed, but only 24 percent of chief development officers said the same.

Other differences were also stark: For example, 89 percent of the chief executives said they understand the fundraising process, but only 63 percent of the senior fundraisers said their chief executive did.

Among the other findings:

* More than two-thirds of chief executives said they actively "cultivate" donors, while only 60 percent of chief development officers agreed.

* Chief executives rated themselves higher than senior fundraisers did in spending an appropriate amount of time on raising money (44 percent versus 30 percent), on being comfortable asking for money (82 percent versus 55 percent), and actively thanking and showing appreciation to donors (68 percent versus 59 percent).

What about the top fundraisers and executives at your organization? Is a lack of understanding about fundraising issues causing turnover and other problems?