Nonprofit funding: paid staff associated with meeting goals

I’ve been suggesting for years that a key challenge of most nonprofit organizations in raising funding is that they simply don’t have enough staff working on fundraising.

While I’m never shocked, I still marvel when I hear the fundraising staff resources devoted to highly successful campaigns of major institutions. For example, it took 200 staff at Dana Farber to achieve success in raising $1 billion, as reported at a AFP conference I attended.

I wasn’t surprised then, by this finding in the Nonprofit Fundraising Study released in April 2012 by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative:

“The probability of meeting the fundraising goal is associated with the number of paid fundraising personnel for respondents to this survey.”

The survey goes on to say:

“In all size groups, organizations with all-volunteer fundraising staff or with part-time personnel assigned to fundraising were less likely to meet their 2011 fundraising goal than were those with at least one full-time fundraising staff member. This was true across size groups, even for the very small organizations with less than $250,000 in expenditures in 2009 (or self-reported budget for 2010).

“For the majority of organizations responding to this survey, meeting the 2011 fundraising goal was most likely to be associated with having at least one paid fundraising staff member and up to four.

“For … organizations with expenditures above $3 million, however, meeting the 2011 fundraising goals was more likely with five or more paid personnel working on development (72 percent of the largest organizations with five or more personnel met their goal, contrasted with 67 percent or less when there were fewer personnel). ”

I don’t know why nonprofit organizations continue to expect to sufficiently grow their philanthropic revenues without sufficient investment in fund development staff.

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