What does the public think about working in fundraising?

Online survey

Alex Xavier examines research which delves into public perceptions of fundraisers

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24th September 2019 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

Today we have published results of our YouGov survey exploring what the public think about working in fundraising. The data touches on the public’s perception on a wide range of issues, including asking what they think are people’s motivations for becoming a fundraiser; what skills they think are needed to do the job; and their understanding of how someone would go about getting a job in fundraising.

The Institute of Fundraising has a strategic objective of championing fundraising as a profession, and the public being more aware of the great and good happening in our sector will lead to more talented individuals – particularly from diverse communities – to become professional fundraisers. Our journey to achieve chartered recognition for the profession will undoubtedly lead to a greater awareness of what a career in fundraising looks like, but we are also working on initiatives which support making fundraising more diverse and champion it as a career of choice.

Entry routes into the profession for non-graduates

“19% of the public said a university education is important to a successful career in fundraising, 48% said it’s not important and a further 34% do not know”

There are many ways people can acquire and refine the skills they need to become excellent fundraisers, but there remains the misconception that you need an undergraduate qualification to even get in the door. We want to open up opportunities and entry routes into our profession. As the #NonGraduatesWelcome campaign highlighted this week, by prioritising graduates over everyone else, the fundraising profession is inheriting inclusion and diversity challenges from the higher education sector.

We know there is a moral and business imperative to make the fundraising profession more diverse, and we’re building on the work outlined by the #ChangeCollective.

With this in mind, we are very excited to announce that we are close to getting approval from the Institute for Apprenticeships to develop a ‘fundraiser’ apprenticeship standard. We have been supporting a group of employers who have formed a trailblazer group and, if all goes to plan, the standard could be ready for delivery in early 2020. Having a fundraising apprenticeship developed will allow charities to develop apprentice entry-level roles which will give a non-graduate the knowledge, skills and behaviours to be competent fundraisers at that level.

Graduates are welcome in fundraising – but so are non-graduates. We hope the development of this apprenticeship standard is the start of something truly special for our profession – watch this space.

Alex Xavier

Alex Xavier

The profession would be viewed more positively if it were chartered

“21% of the public said they wouldn’t be interested in a career in fundraising because they don’t know enough about the profession”

Many fundraisers have joined the profession without any pre-existing knowledge of the charity sector or how fundraising works. However learning ‘on the job’ can only get you so far. That is why we launched our qualifications framework which has seen 1,200+ fundraisers qualify at Certificate, Diploma and Advanced Diploma levels. The thirst for knowledge shown by individuals and organisations – small and large – has been fantastic.

Should we become a chartered body, and subsequently be allowed to award Individual Chartered Status, we already know that those holding IoF qualifications will find themselves in an advantageous position to potentially become ‘chartered fundraisers’. Our YouGov research made it very clear that one third of the public feel that fundraising as a profession would be viewed more positively if it were a chartered profession. Therefore, chartered status is not just a fantastic opportunity for the IoF – it is an opportunity for our entire sector to showcase our brilliance and attract talented diverse individuals to champion our causes.

Lifelong learning crucial in ensuring professional competence is maintained

“Only 13% saw career development opportunities as a reason for being interested in working in fundraising”

Amongst the many reasons the public acknowledged for pursuing a career in fundraising, career development opportunities were ranked the lowest. There is clearly more work to be done to create new and promote existing opportunities – not only to appeal to newcomers but to retain our workforce.

Regardless of whether we become a chartered body or not, we are giving serious thought around how we can support Continuous Professional Development (CPD) in the sector. Our development of a Fundraising Competency Framework is crucial. The framework will clearly outline what knowledge, skills and behavioural characteristics fundraisers at all levels should possess and, crucially, the Institute will support its own members through the provision of relevant CPD activities to help continuously raise professional competence. No one is ever the finished article, but we owe it to our causes and our supporters to be at the very top of our game throughout our entire careers.

By showcasing the profession through chartered status, and outlining the knowledge, skills and behaviours that can be gained through a career in fundraising, we can open up entry routes into fundraising and make it for everyone.

Alex Xavier is director of individual membership, compliance and professional development at the Institute of Fundraising (IoF). This piece originally appeared on the IoF website.