Fundraising success tied to staffing capacity

Investing in fundraising staff generates the biggest return in donated dollars for nonprofit hospitals, systems and health care organizations, two new reports say.

The number of professional staff directly responsible for fundraising, for example, has a “ripple effect,” say the reports from the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, or AHP.

Increasing the size of the staff increases market penetration, which in turn builds stronger donor relationships leading to larger average gift sizes, all of which increase fundraising revenue, efficiency and effectiveness, AHP says.

“Having the right number of fundraising professionals focused on the right programs makes a huge difference in how much an organization can raise,” William C. McGinly, president and CEO of AHP, says in a statement.

The two reports are based on AHP’s Report on Giving, an annual survey of 335 of its nearly 5,000 members, and on its Performance Benchmarking Service, more in-depth surveys of 45 members.

Optimal staffing levels that yield greater fundraising success total seven or more for U.S. organizations and five or more for Canadian organizations.

The reports also found that well-established major gifts programs increase average gift sizes “tremendously,” AHP says.

“High performing organizations know the importance of investments in people and programs, including sophisticated research programs, major gift initiatives (including well-managed campaigns), planned giving, corporate sponsorships, grant writing, and identification of opportunities for major funding from partners such as foundations, and local, state and federal government agencies,” AHP says.

The reports also say more staff requires larger budgets for salaries, and that professional tenure is linked to compensation.

The optimal budget for professional salaries totals $800,000 or more for U.S. organizations, or average salary and benefits totaling $114,285 for a staff of seven, and $500,000 for Canadian organizations, or average salary and benefits for a staff of five.

More staff focused on major gifts “means that donor relationships are more genuinely cultivated and sustained,” AHP says, and results improve when fundraising professionals have been on staff for five years or more.

Higher average gift sizes generate a higher yield in “bottom-line fundraising revenue,” AHP says.

Larger gifts are “directly tied to  net production revenues,” it says, “and also can be considered a ripple effect of employing and retaining an optimal number of professional staff.”

High bottom-line returns are linked with average gift sizes of $535 or more for U.S. organizations and $650 or more for Canadian organizations.

Todd Cohen

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