Donors, Board Members Among Fundraiser Fears

April 16, 2014       Zach Halper      

What’s keeping the fundraisers of the Association of Fundraising Professional – Greater Philadelphia Chapter (AFP-GPC) – up at night? According to a new survey, it’s everything from board members not raising money to finding new donors.

A new “Demon Exchange Survey” conducted by AFP-GPC asked its members to share their “Demon Issues” that caused them to lose the most sleep. It covered four categories: Beefs about the Board, Donor Dilemmas, Fundraising Fears, and Angst for the Unexpected.

Donor Dilemmas appeared to cause the most stress among AFP-GPC’s fundraisers. According to the survey results, every issue listed in the category caused anxiety for at least 50 percent of respondents. The biggest issue on fundraisers’ minds was encouraging donors who have the money to think bigger (94 percent). This was followed by the continuous pursuit of new donors (93 percent). The issue that caused stress in the least amount of respondents in this category was transforming the “I give my time, not my money” mindset, and creating a culture of giving (56 percent).

“The data solidifies the concerns that those of us working in fundraising have known to be demons’ all along,” said Stan Retif, president of AFP-GPC. “I suspect that fundraising professionals reading the survey will take comfort in knowing that they are not alone in their current challenges and concerns.”

While a nonprofit’s board of directors can be a fundraiser’s greatest asset in completing their jobs successfully, AFP-GPC’s survey found that it is a struggle to get board members to be enthusiastic about it. While few respondents took no issue with their board’s turnover, vision, expectations, influence or the boards’ representation of the organization to the public, problems areas were found elsewhere. Specifically, 67 percent noted members’ unwillingness to raise gifts or make their own gifts, while 55 percent would not submit to fundraising training.

The final two categories – Fundraising Fears and the Angst for the Unexpected – reflected the stress that fundraisers’ feel because of the pressure put on them. Eight-one percent of respondents reported that they felt pressure to continually come up with creative ideas to raise funds. Similarly, 75 percent of participants were stressed because they believe they were expected to craft compelling and powerful appeals. Finally, 88 percent experienced anxiety because of the uncertainty of how the economy would impact their ability to do their jobs.

“These issues are a normal part of what goes along with being in development. It is AFP-GPC’s goal to make handling them more palatable by preparing professionals to address them,” said Retif.

Salaries of the respondents ranged from $50,000 to under $100,000 for almost 50 percent of respondents. With 56 respondents listing fundraising goals, the goals ranged from between $200,000 to more than $1 million.

You will be able to learn more about the “Demon Exchange Survey” by attending AFP-GPC’s Franklin Forum 2014, a one-day educational and networking event scheduled for May 9 in Philadelphia. You can find out more about the event at http://www.afpgpc.org/event/franklin-forum/