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Survey Rates Perceptions and Experiences of Fundraisers

(Aug. 8, 2005) A new report, supported in part by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), provides new perspectives on how fundraisers of different races view themselves and their jobs and compiles ideas on what can be done to bring more African-American fundraisers into the profession.

The report, Survey of Perceptions and Experience of Fundraising Professionals, was conducted by Georgia Tech Consulting Services at the request of the Office of Development at the Georgia Institute of Technology. It examined responses from both minority and non-minority fundraisers about their experiences within the fundraising profession, including work history, training and development, career progression, job responsibilities and work environment.

Participants were asked to agree or disagree to a series of statements on a 1-5 point scale, with 1 being 'strongly disagree' and 5 being 'strongly agree.'

Job Experiences and Satisfaction

Overall, both minority and non-minority respondents tended to have positive outlooks about their job experiences and satisfaction. The average response to overall job satisfaction was 3.95 (Caucasian? fundraisers: 3.93, African-American fundraisers: 3.92). Respondents were even more pleased with their career choice in the profession with an average score of 4.06. African-American fundraisers were slightly more satisfied (4.10) than their Caucasian colleagues (4.04).

In general, fundraisers of all races are very positive about their opportunities for professional education. A very high level of agreement - a 4.07 overall - came in response to the statement 'I feel that I have access to training and career development opportunities.' Furthermore, 87 percent of all respondents indicated they had participated in some type of training or career development program within the last 12 months.

However, when asked to rate the statement, 'I am encouraged to participate in additional education or professional designations,' lower ratings for African-American respondents (3.29 versus 3.58 overall and 3.75 for Caucasian fundraisers) indicate that some have experienced varying levels of encouragement for continuing education activities.

Some of the strongest opinions expressed in the survey came from statements regarding career profession. Most fundraisers felt very strongly that they were qualified for their current profession, with African-Americans feeling more confident (4.69) than their Caucasian counterparts (4.61). Despite those positive feelings, less than half of all respondents (44 percent) believe that there were opportunities for advancement within their organization, with Caucasian fundraisers slightly more confident (40 percent) than African-American fundraisers (38 percent).

While 72 percent of all respondents expected to see themselves working in the profession for the next 3 to 5 years, only 54 percent stated that they see themselves staying at their current organization in the future. More than half of respondents had not looked for a job with another organization within the past 12 months. Respondents who reported looking for a new job cited 'higher salary' (26 percent) or 'no opportunities for career advancement' at their current organization (23 percent) as the two most popular reasons. All of these percentages held fairly constant for all respondents regardless of race.

Attracting More African-American Fundraisers

Using the responses from the survey, the study also looked at a wide range of ideas and proposals to attract more African Americans to the fundraising profession.

However, one of the most popular responses from the survey, especially from African-American participants, was that there are actually a significant number of African-American fundraisers in the profession already. Especially at smaller organizations where they may have dual responsibilities and work as fundraisers, but because of their job titles they aren't recognized as working in development.

Participant responses also noted that young African Americans are not often exposed to the fundraising profession as a viable career option. AFP's new Collegiate Chapters program, whereby AFP chapters sponsor a college or university chapter at a particular institution, may help address this particular issue. For example, the Washington, D.C. chapter is sponsoring a collegiate chapter at Howard University, a historically black university. (Editor's note: More information about AFP's Collegiate Chapters program will be in next week's eWire.)

Why more African-Americans aren't working at majority institutions or nonprofits is another issue the study seeks to address. Many respondents reported that there is a perception by African Americans that job opportunities for them are limited outside of working for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Another popular perspective among respondents of all races is that the experience at HBCUs does not always transfer successfully to large majority institutions. At the same time, many HBCUs feel that their fundraisers need more training, but they don't want them to receive the training and then leave for another institution.

The report includes a series of suggestions to alleviate these problems, including more grants such as the Kresge HBCU Initiative that helps such institutions strengthen their development infrastructure.

About the Report

An anonymous online survey was sent to 307 individuals who were contacted using an email invitation. The survey was open from July 6 - 20, 2005, and received a total of 111 responses.

A majority of respondents were female (78 percent) and between the ages of 31 and 50 (63 percent). Sixty percent of respondents were Caucasian, 35 percent were African-American, 3 percent were Hispanic or Latino and 2 percent were Asian or Pacific-Islander.

A full copy of the report and recommendations are included in the attachments section below.


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