Advancement Leaders Speak: Talent, Donor Engagement and Key Challenges

Brian GaworVice President of ResearchMarch 31, 2022

We’ve just launched the latest installment of our Advancement Leaders Speak Survey, and we’re asking you, the fundraising community about key issues, challenges, and opportunities as we engage donors.

Take the 7-minute survey today and share your perspective.

I thought you might enjoy a bit of an appetizer as you dive in and respond. This year’s survey has a few new topics, and here’s a preview from the first 115 responses.

About a quarter of higher fundraising positions are open right now, and talent is a key issue

What percentage of your institution’s current total advancement positions are open, and you are seeking to fill? So far, the average is about 25 percent, and we may be at historic levels of turnover and hiring in the fundraising world.

We also asked about the things that might be contributing to turnover. The top responses so far are “The overall job market, “ “We are not paying enough,” and “We’re asking people to do too much.”

There’s also an opportunity for an open response on your feelings about the current advancement talent challenge, and we’ll report what your peers said in the coming weeks.

Big gifts are a priority for fundraisers, annual revenue and campaign completion are next

82% of fundraisers say booking big gifts is a high priority, and 67% are either prioritizing a current campaign or the next campaign. 60% say growing the number of annual donors is a high priority, and 54% say annual revenue is a high focus. There’s a real interplay here, as the work we do with annual donors will contribute to future major gifts. Only 34% say improving the donor experience is a high priority and that is a miss- making it easy to give and enhancing the joy of giving would influence all the other goals, for sure.

Fundraising channels are only somewhat integrated, and that’s a big miss

We asked about how key channels like digital, phone, email, and texting are “integrated and working together.” Giving days and email are the current top contenders for most integrated, but most fundraisers only rate channels as being “somewhat integrated.”

That’s likely not providing the best donor experience. We’ve made it a big priority to integrate outreach in the RNL platform. This not only boosts ROI, but also avoids real misses like annoyingly re-asking a donor who’s already given recently instead of focusing on thanking them.

Fundraisers have great insights on how top brands can teach us to engage donors better

I’m excited about a new question we’re asking: “What brand, app, platform, or service provides you with the best consumer or subscriber experience, outside of work?” The responses so far include things I expected: Amazon, AirBnb, Target. But there have also been some real surprises, like Dunkin Donuts and mobile phone providers. We also asked about what we can learn from these brands, and personalization, appropriate channel communications, and relevancy are top contenders.

Share your perspective by taking the 2022 Advancement Leaders Speak Survey

We want to know what you think. Jump in, take the survey today, and add your perspective. We’ll be back in a few weeks with the full results in a report with key takeaways.

Take the 7-minute survey today and share your perspective.

About the Author

Brian Gawor

Brian Gawor’s focus is research and strategy to help propel both alumni engagement and fundraising results of RNL clients. Brian has 20 years of higher education experience in student affairs, enrollment management, alumni engagement and...

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