Accident Prevention: The case for a qualifying pathway for fundraising and the most appropriate entry routes on to that pathway

Accident Prevention: The case for a qualifying pathway for fundraising and the most appropriate entry routes on to that pathway

Raising standards – New report calls for formal pathways for fundraisers

As the fundraising profession faces a skills crisis, is it time to introduce formal pathways into the profession?

A report published this week examining routes into fundraising suggests that the profession is experiencing a ‘market failure’ and calls for formal qualifying pathways in line with other occupations.

With the charity sector facing a huge deficit of talent and with skilled fundraisers more sought after than ever, the report Accident Prevention shows that 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, whereby 42% gradually come 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 posits 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. Furthermore, the introduction of a formally recognised qualification will help to ensure a high standard and end the informality of training and career development currently on offer.

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.

Commissioned by Cause4 and Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy, 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 MInstF(Dip), director and founder of fundraising think tank Rogare and the report’s author 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 said:

“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.”