“Fundraising is the only profession you can join without knowing a thing.”
So observes Professor Adrian Sargeant, founder of the Philanthropy Centre.
And it’s not the new fundraiser’s fault, either. Charities that hire untrained fundraisers and then expect great results are to blame.
Dr. Sargeant has been passionate for 25 years about what he calls the fundraising body of knowledge.
Too often, entry-level fundraisers are thrown into the deep end and expected to instantly become Olympic champs. They’re assigned unreasonable fundraising goals. They’re second-guessed at every turn. And they’re denied the support and training necessary to succeed.
The bad results are all too apparent: soaring donor attrition rates, increased difficulty finding new donors, and devastating levels of staff dissatisfaction and turnover.
In the US, on average, new fundraisers now stay just 16 months in a job, studies show. Yet it takes at least 3 years to create an effective fundraising program from scratch. This premature turnover is one major reason so many small and mid-size charities face chronic fundraising shortfalls.
If we’re serious about changing all that and giving donors a genuinely better experience, we need to make a serious investment in the training of our fundraisers. In turn, our fundraisers should make a serious time investment in their own professional development … and see the rewards of compensation commensurate with improved results.
Fundraising Body of Knowledge
But what exactly is the fundraising body of knowledge?
We know it can’t just be war stories, individual perspectives on success, or the ten steps to raising money in particular campaigns. There’s a place for that, for sure, because all professions take pride in and learn from their leading practitioners; people who truly excel at what they do.
But all true professions learn from the latest thinking and research.
In 2015, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) made a significant investment in the development of such a program.
Fundraising Principles and Practice Education Course
If you’re serious about a career in fundraising or want to broaden your knowledge to prepare for a leadership role, then the AFP’s Fundraising Principles and Practice education course might be for you.
The class is designed and led by Prof. Adrian Sargeant, a world-class fundraising educator and founder of the Philanthropy Centre. As some of you may know, the Philanthropy Centre helps charities internationally increase donations, using the new science of philanthropic psychology.
This AFP class is different because it blends the very best of professional practice with cutting edge science.
You’ll be introduced to a wealth of academic research with very real and practical implications for how you can improve your fundraising success.
But it won’t be easy to gain your Certificate.
The course is intensive and there are many hours of learning to complete.
Following an initial 3-day block taught face-to-face in DC, there are 35 weeks of distance learning material to work through online.
You’ll need to set aside at least 4-5 hours a week to listen to lectures, complete the readings, and contribute to two regular discussions. This is a comprehensive and intensive course. It isn’t for the faint-hearted, as previous participants will attest.
Each of the major forms of fundraising will be covered and there is also a unit on fundraising management. In all, there are six that must be completed:
- Introduction to Fundraising and Donor Behaviour
- Direct Response Fundraising (including digital)
- Fundraising Planning and Donor Retention
- Major Gifts and Planned Giving (Legacies)
- Institutional Fundraising (Corporate Fundraising and Grantwriting
- Managing Fundraising Teams
There are also four formal assessments including a fundraising audit, a fundraising plan and a critical evaluation of your own approach to fundraising leadership or the management of a team.
Detailed feedback is provided on all written work and you will be graded on its quality.
It’s new, it’s exciting, so why not make it part of your career development path and join Adrian and his team in DC this July?
You can find out more about the program here.