The C word

I don't mean to be uncouth, but I'm going to whisper one of the nastiest words in fundraising:


An ethical fundraiser should never accept a job that's compensated via commission (aka percentage-based compensation) and a nonprofit should be wary of any fundraiser who offers to work in this way. In other words, the concept that I'd earn 5% on a $100K grant I bring in is a total no-no.

What's the big deal, you may ask?

1. Fundraisers' solicitations get rejected -- a lot. For every 10 proposals submitted, 2 or 3 might be funded. It can be perfectly written and match the funders' interests, but there are 1,536,643 reasons why your proposal could be rejected--most entirely outside of the fundraisers' control. What "cut" of pay do you get for submitting a stellar $500k proposal if it's rejected? Exactly.

2. Self gain should never be the motivation for submitting a proposal on behalf of a nonprofit. Fundraisers get paid a regular salary to do their very best to secure philanthropic dollars. Their motivation is the cause, not commissions. This seems to be the hardest element for non-fundraisers to understand. Simply, we're do-gooders. Get me behind a cause I believe in and I'll raise money for it. 'Nuff said.

3. Donors don't like this one bit. Even though fundraisers get paid to fundraise, donors don't want to bankroll that person. They want their dollars going directly to the nonprofit's meaningful programs and activities. Although many gifts help cover operating costs, donors shouldn't be made to feel like the person who "booked" their gift is also profiting directly from their charity.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals lays this out very well in their code of ethics .

Popular Posts