According to a recent survey, the average tenure of development professionals is just 18 months. Other sources say it’s only 16 months.
Either way, the extremely short duration is bad for organizations, bad for development professionals, and bad for donors.
As a consultant, I frequently review development resumes, and it never ceases to amaze me when they are crammed with evidence of job hopping — one year here, two years there — sometimes for as many as five or six jobs in a row.
The Chicken and the Egg Question
Does the Development Director leave because of unrealistic expectations, low pay, lack of board support? Do they get fired for not achieving success quickly enough? (And, who is setting the expectations?)
This is important, because I’m afraid development professionals are caught in a vicious cycle with regard to overall fundraising, and more specifically, with raising major gifts.
It’s a vicious cycle…
It’s often perceived as easier and quicker to raise funds from grant writing and fundraising events, which is why new development directors find themselves trapped within a stream of never ending deadlines and impending events.
…with disastrous consequences.
When a development director leaves, it often takes many months to replace them. This leaves remaining staff scrambling to complete necessary fundraising tasks, and many responsibilities fall through the cracks. It also costs money to find, hire, and train a new staff member.
Probably the most important negative effect is the damaged relationships with donors. The new development director will need to spend months or even years building relationships from scratch.
Bad for organizations, bad for donors, bad for professionals.
Job hopping is also bad for development professionals. Searching for a job and starting a new one is never easy. It’s bad for your career to have multiple jobs in a short period of time. Not to mention the fact that you can’t get good development experience constantly starting new jobs from scratch.
Again — bad for organizations, bad for donors, bad for development professionals.
If you want to stop this vicious cycle, and are committed to helping development professionals successfully raise major gifts at all types of organizations, I hope you’ll join the #MajorGiftMovement.
It’s Time to Fix a Broken System
The #MajorGiftMovement is about moving nonprofits from heavy dependence on grant writing and event planning and into the world of individual giving and major gifts — a world with more benefits for all involved.
The problem with grant writing and event planning is that they are labor intensive and expensive! The cost to raise $1 is approximately five times greater for fundraising events than it is for raising major gifts.Investing dollars in major gifts is a good choice with a large ROI. #MajorGiftMovement Click To Tweet
Major Gifts is one of the least expensive forms of fundraising, in terms of cost to raise a dollar, and yet, most nonprofits remain heavily invested in fundraising events and grant writing.
An unsettling fact about most nonprofits today…
What truly concerns me (and should concern you too) is that most nonprofits have staff members who are paid to focus their time and attention on grant writing and event planning, and only a tiny fraction of nonprofit organizations have staff members who are paid to focus on raising major gifts.
How’s that for backwards?
Be a Trendsetter — Ride the Wave
Every movement or trend has trendsetters, who are the innovators and early adopters. I’m inviting you to be part of the initial group that sets the trend.
By supporting the #MajorGiftMovement NOW, while it’s in its infancy, you’ll be an early adopter. And early adopters of any new movement are the ones who reap the most benefits.
And it pays to be an early adopter.
You’ll be among the first hired, highest paid, and most in-demand fundraisers.
You’ll help create a world where every organization has a major gift officer and all organizations are able to raise major gifts and accomplish their missions in bigger and more robust ways.
The time is NOW for nonprofit leaders to realize that major gift officers and development directors are most successful when board and staff members are using accurate metrics and have realistic goals.
Ok, I’m in! What should I do?
If you’re ready to become part of the #MajorGiftMovement and help fix the broken fundraising system, here’s what you need to do:
- Start the conversation at your organization about prioritizing raising major gifts.
- Set aside time and resources dedicated to raising major gifts this year.
- Develop accurate metrics to measure your major gifts program and set clear expectations and goals (look for this in an upcoming post).
- Make a plan to hire your first major gifts officer in the next 12 to 24 months.
- Provide adequate major gift training to all development staff and board members, thereby increasing the average tenure of development professionals to more than two years.
- Help increase awareness about the #MajorGiftMovement with a tweet, Facebook mention or a social share.
Vision of a Successful #MajorGiftMovement
So what would the world look like if the #MajorGiftMovement is a success?
Nonprofits have dedicated major gift officers.
Every organization will have a dedicated major gift officer who is judged by fair and accurate goals and metrics.
Development professionals are more valuable.
Organizations will provide time and resources for raising major gifts, including formal major gift training. As a result, average tenure increases to five years or more and board members are increasingly involved and engaged.
The vicious cycle is over.
Development professionals remain at their nonprofits for several years, being able to foster deeper and longer-lasting relationships with top donors. It’s win-win, all the way around.
Join the #MajorGiftMovement and EVERYONE wins — organizations, donors, and you.I'm joining the #MajorGiftMovement to modernize our nonprofit and improve fundraising for all! Click To Tweet
Keep up with the #MajorGiftMovement!
The #MajorGiftMovement is just getting started. The best way to keep up with how it’s evolving and changing the face of fundraising is to join my list. You’ll also get two free eBooks to help your nonprofit succeed.
Questions about the movement? Suggestions? Leave a comment below.