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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

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Opening a Can of Worms
Penelope Burke

April, 2010

Two weeks ago, I asked professional fundraisers to give me their views on a few questions, including this one: Among Board of Directors, Fundraising Committee, CEO and Professional Fundraising Staff, who is primarily responsible for each of the following tasks in your not-for-profit organization? The list of tasks appears below.  I posed the same question to Board Members who volunteer for not-for-profits that employ professional fundraisers.  I was curious about whether leadership volunteers and fundraisers were in agreement on this issue.

557 professional fundraisers responded (thank you!)  While we had a healthy cross-section from highly experienced Directors of Development to front-line staff with under five years in the business, there was no meaningful statistical variation from one group to the next. The Board survey is not yet closed, so I will need to wait one more week before telling you how they answered this same question. In the meantime, though, I am eager to get your feedback on these results.

TABLE 1: Cygnus 2010 Supplementary Survey for Professional  Fundraisers Results

Click to enlarge.

Many respondents commented that the wording of our question presented a challenge, as what fundraisers are responsible for and what they think they should be responsible for are two different things. While that is true, this phrasing was intended to force the hand of both paid staff and volunteers on this question, in order to bring the current reality of fundraising responsibility into sharp focus.  I think it accomplished that.

When I saw how my colleagues in professional fundraising answered this question my reaction was, “I wonder if they’ve given up.”  But, your reaction is the one that counts. Please give me your thoughts – then, in next Tuesday’s blog, I’ll publish what Board members said along with some of the insightful comments I received from both professional fundraisers and leadership volunteers.

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