Diversity, inclusion enticing fundraisers to stay

Perhaps the most significant barrier to fostering diversity and inclusion in the charitable giving sector is the lack of information on the number of people from diverse communities who currently identify as fundraising practitioners. But, those found claim to be in it for the longer haul.

The issue of a diversity and inclusion census is one of the key items in the new “Diversity and Inclusion Survey Report,” which follows an October survey designed by the AFP Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the AFP Research Council.

The survey was disseminated among AFP members and to other fundraising professionals through AFP partner organizations, including CFRE International, African American Development Officers Network, Canadian Association of Gift Planners (CAGP), Grant Professionals Association and Native Americans in Philanthropy.

Building diversity and facilitating inclusion in the profession is one of the four primary pillars of AFP’s strategic plan. “What we quickly realized at the Summit is that we simply didn’t know enough about diversity and inclusion in the profession and the nonprofit sector,” said Jaye Lopez Van Soest, CFRE, the chair of AFP’s Diversion and Inclusion Committee. “The survey covered a new number of key areas that give us a sense of where the profession is with respect to diversity and inclusion and what is realistically possible now and into the future.”

More than one-third of respondents indicate their sense that the number of ethnically diverse fundraising professionals has increased since 2001. Only four percent thought it has decreased; 50 percent responded that it was about the same.

Most of those responding to the question say that their answer is based on personal observations of the number of people from diverse communities at conferences, those employed in their community’s nonprofit organizations or who are members of professional fundraising associations.

Some 75 percent of those surveyed by AFP responded that their organization prioritizes inclusiveness and 89 percent responded they are treated fairly at work, although those who identify as White/Caucasian are slightly more inclined to feel this way over peers who identify as people of color.

Additionally, people of color responding to the survey are much more likely to see insufficient organizational diversity as a challenge to their careers. However, in findings aligned with those in the UnderDeveloped report, most respondents indicate that organizational dysfunction, non-supportive management and poor understanding of fundraising requirements are the biggest career challenges they face.

The study results show 90 percent of survey respondents intend to stay in the fundraising profession for a minimum of three to five years. This represents a significant increase compared to the 40 percent of fundraising professionals cited in the 2013 report UnderDeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing NonProfit Fundraising, who indicated that they were uncertain that they would be career fundraisers.

Training and mentors are both positively associated with plans to stay on in the fundraising profession. More than 80 of those surveyed responded that employer-subsidized training is available to them. And, 57 percent have taken external training programs that are specifically related to fundraising while another nine percent say they intend to take a training course in the near future.

Although only 40 percent say they have a mentor, a full 88 percent of those who do say that the mentor-protégé relationship has helped them in their careers. Almost half of those with a mentor report that they initiated the relationship.

The full survey report can be found on the AFP website www.afpnet.org