Funder Briefing: Fundraising: The Biggest Challenge in Capacity Building

Thu, August 7, 2014,
2:00pm to 3:30pm PDT
Seattle, WA
Philanthropy Northwest, 2101 Fourth Avenue, Suite 650, Seattle, WA 98121 Teleconference is available

Philanthropy Northwest members are invited to join a special funders briefing, Fundraising: The Biggest Challenge in Capacity Building, on Thursday August 7th  that will discuss the fundraising potential through the merger of two Washington state professional development organizations advancing fundraising.    Andrew Watt, CEO of the International Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) will join the conversation. Please see the invitation below from Sonya Campion, Campion Foundation, and Ellen Ferguson, Hugh & Jane Ferguson Foundation, and we hope you can join us.

Special Funders Briefing – Fundraising: The Biggest Challenge in Capacity Building

Many foundations have invested generously in helping to improve the fundraising strength of the nonprofit sector.  Yet it continues to be a challenge with a scarcity of trained professionals, a lack of understanding of a true philanthropic culture and expensive inefficiencies resulting in less mission and impact.   If we are to advance the sector, we have to improve the productivity and caliber of the fundraising profession in order to leverage more resources and welcome a new generation of donors into the nonprofit sector.

Proposed Solution for Washington State:  The Merger of Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and Northwest Development Officers Association (NDOA)

We need your candid feedback on a bold, new opportunity for Washington State that could have a significant impact on the fundraising potential of every nonprofit in the State.  Please join us for a candid discussion about the challenges and potential of fundraising with Andrew Watt, CEO of the International Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), based in Washington D.C.  He is visiting Seattle to support the leadership of the Washington State AFP Chapter and NDOA’s proposed merger into a statewide professional development organization to advance the fundraising profession for all nonprofits.   

With Washington State being a hub of innovative philanthropy, it is time to invest in the capacity of the fundraising sector to keep up.  Recent research conducted by Compass Point in UnderDeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising (CompassPoint, 2013)  reflected our own Northwest region’s challenges:

  • 41% reported having no culture of philanthropy at their organizations.
  • 50% anticipated leaving their current jobs in two years or less
  • Despite the fact that nearly all development directors—89 % —serve on management teams, a majority reported only little or moderate influence on the engagement of other staff in fund development or on annual budgeting
  • At many nonprofits the development director position has been vacant for months, or even years
  • 53% of executive directors reported that their most recent development director hiring process attracted an insufficient number of candidates with the right mix of skills and experience
  • Nearly one in three executive directors are lukewarm about, or dissatisfied with, the performance of their current development directors.
  • Executive directors report that significant numbers of development directors lack key fundraising skills.

If these statistics even partially reflect the reality of the Northwest nonprofit community, as the associations representing the majority of fundraisers in Washington, their mandate is clear: something needs to change. We cannot and will not let UnderDeveloped stand in Washington.

And they can’t do it alone: as Jeff Clarke, CEO of Philanthropy Northwest recently pointed out, the gap between philanthropy and the nonprofit sector has to be eliminated if we are to advance our mutual missions.

This is an opportunity for a candid, engaged conversation about a quintessentially important function for every nonprofit:  raising money and building productive, sustainable relationships with donors to advance the quality of life in our communities.

We hope you can join us for a lively conversation – and we promise it will be worthy of a summer afternoon – complete with lemonade and cookies.


Sonya Campion                                                               Ellen Ferguson

Campion Foundation                                                     Hugh & Jane Ferguson Foundation