New research reveals that today’s severe and worsening shortage of qualified fundraisers poses a major threat to the future of many nonprofits and those who rely on them for help.

When it comes to fundraising, few things are more important than the people you have doing it. This extends beyond the fundraising team into the ranks of the CEO and Board members.

DickersonBakker recently conducted a major nationwide survey of nonprofit leaders and fundraising professionals. This survey provides insight into the challenges and problems of hiring in the nonprofit workplace and uncovers potential solutions. Responses represented a wide variety of large and small, religious and non-religious nonprofit organizations. Some of what we learned surprised us. One thing didn’t surprise us.

Fundraising staff turnover is a big problem, particularly in field-fundraising positions.

The problem of fundraising staff turnover has been much talked about in the nonprofit sector recently. Today, there is a commonly held belief that the average tenure for fundraisers is 18 months or less. One major study referred to fundraising staff positions as a “revolving door.”

If nonprofits fail to maintain an adequate workforce to raise the resources they need, that would pose a major threat to their future and to the people they serve.

Fundraisers are critical to providing nonprofits with the resources they need to grow and thrive and impact hundreds of millions of lives each year. It is a high calling. When nonprofits experience challenges finding and/or retaining qualified people in these key roles it affects us all. We hope the findings of this research will be helpful as we seek solutions to these important problems.

The data in this survey was obtained from 739 nonprofit leaders: including 328 CEOs, 257 professional fundraisers managers, and 154 frontline professional fundraisers. Respondents came from ten nonprofit sectors. This online survey was conducted in January and February of 2021. Findings were assessed at the 95% confidence level with a margin of error of +/- 3.5%.

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