September 22, 2019
Half of all Nonprofit Fundraisers Plan to Quit in Next Two Years

August 6, 2019 — Half of all nonprofit fundraisers expect to leave their jobs in the next two years due to too much pressure to meet unrealistic fundraising goals, low pay, and frustrating organizational cultures, a newly completed national survey has found.

In addition, three in 10 said they had recently left or plan to leave the development field altogether in the next two years, according to findings released today by Chronicle of Philanthropy, which surveyed 1,035 fundraisers in the United States and Canada via Harris Insights & Analytics.

Eighty-four percent of fundraisers said they felt “tremendous pressure to succeed” in their role, and 55% said they “often feel unappreciated” in their work, the Chronicle reported.

At the jobs they left most recently, fundraisers were likeliest to be dissatisfied with their prospects for promotion (85%) or a lack of succession planning (83%).

"While the large number of baby boomers in fundraising could account for some of that, it’s hardly the main source; only 12% said they planned to retire or had family changes or other personal reasons for quitting," the publication noted.

According to the Chronicle, the new data shows that even after a widely shared study in 2013 sent a warning signal to nonprofit leaders about the anxiety and unhappiness of fundraisers, little has improved. Half of the top development officers in that survey, “Underdeveloped,” conducted by CompassPoint and the Evelyn & Walter Haas Jr. Fund, said they were considering leaving their jobs.

Respondents also said that fundraising is getting harder, with the Chronicle reporting that one in three saying donations to their charity had dropped in the past two years. The latest “Giving USA” figures showed philanthropy over all down 1.7% in 2018 compared with the previous year, including a 3.4% drop in giving by individuals.

On the positive side, the survey found that:
  • Fundraisers are driven by mission; 93% of survey participants said they couldn’t work for a charity if they didn’t have a strong connection to the cause.

  • They’re happy with their travel schedule (92%).

  • They appreciate their organization’s flexibility regarding their family and child-care issues.

  • They are satisfied with their level of independence in their jobs (83%), and the same share said they’re happy with their relationship with their charity’s volunteers (excluding board members).

  • They enjoy working with donors: 78% said they wished they had more time to spend meeting with supporters.
In the 2013 study, development directors complained of a lack of help from their executive directors and boards, the Chronicle reported, while the new survey found that development professionals still struggle to get the help they need from their organization’s leaders: 36% of fundraisers said they were dissatisfied with the support they got from their boards, and 29% said they were dissatisfied with the help received from the CEO.

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