The fundraising profession is experiencing a ‘market failure’ and should have formal qualifying pathways in line with other occupations, according to a new report.
The report, Accident Prevention, was commissioned by Cause4 and Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy and examines routes into fundraising. While there is increasing demand for skilled fundraisers, it states, only 5% of fundraisers actively chose it as a profession. The majority (44%) become a fundraiser by ‘accident’ with no major decision to choose this as a job, with 42% gradually coming to the decision to become a fundraiser over time.
Ending or minimising accidental routes into fundraising is seen as vital by the report’s author, Ian MacQuillin, who suggests that only by actively promoting fundraising as a profession and introducing formally recognised qualifications will the charity sector acquire the competencies needed to plug the growing skills gap.
MacQuillin argues that establishing a required framework would help to end exploitative and unfair routes into the profession, for example by requiring that candidates already have undertaken unpaid or low-paid roles to gain experience or connections.
The report also calls for a radical rethink of the type of traits and qualities recruiters should look for in candidates, suggesting that current practice is focused on behaviours and attitudes, rather than concrete skills and knowledge to the detriment of the sector.
Ian MacQuillin, Director and Founder of fundraising think tank Rogare, said:
“We wouldn’t expect a surgeon or accountant to ‘fall in’ to their profession so why do we expect the same from fundraisers? We must urgently remove the reluctance to establish a set of standard competencies and skills in fundraising. Our findings highlight that, while the charity sector attracts passionate and values-driven individuals, we cannot leave finding good fundraisers to chance and possibly the best way to do this is by establishing a qualifying entry route into the profession.”
Michelle Wright, Programme Director, Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy added:
“This is an important piece of work that asks urgent questions about what we look for in candidates for fundraising roles and how and where the gaps are. Should we be looking for experience or track record? How do we assess their suitability for a role? Ending the subjectivity entrenched in recruitment practices could be the best way of ensuring the charity sector attracts a skilled and diverse pool of talent for years to come.”