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Fundraising Strategies: Call in the Experts, or Build a Team?

Lena J. Weiner, for HealthLeaders Media, April 28, 2014

Big paydays for fundraising consultants have some HR professionals and senior executives weighing the merits of consultants versus building and maintaining an in-house development staff.

"A study of 280 nonprofits released by the Chronicle of Philanthropy shows nearly 30 top fundraisers have been earning more than $500,000, and at least two surpassed the $1 million mark. The data is from 2011, the most recent year available. The top compensation went to Anne McSweeney, campaign director at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, who was paid more than $1.2 million in 2011." – ABC News

Reading this news item the other day made me think about whether it's better for healthcare organizations to keep development officers and professional fundraisers in-house or to outsource this important work to professionals.

It also made me wonder if I've made a horrible career mistake.

In one of my first jobs after finishing college, I worked as an outsourced fundraiser or professional beggar, as the old-timers on the staff called themselves. After a week of fairly vague training, I was handed a headset and thrown on the phones.

Some of us were good at getting people to part with their money, others weren't. But the company didn't seem to care about the integrity or quality of the people they hired; the object of their game was filling seats and turning over X-number of phone calls per hour.

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