New Directions for Philanthropic Fundraising, e-Philanthropy, No. 42


Examines progress being made in achieving professionalism in the fund-raising field. Presents current analysis on training, compensation, accountability, diversity and gender differences, and organizational team-building.

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Examines progress being made in achieving professionalism in the fund-raising field. Presents current analysis on training, compensation, accountability, diversity and gender differences, and organizational team-building.

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Editors' Notes 1
1. Measuring professionalism 5
2. The growth of fundraising: Framing the impact of research and literature on education and training 21
3. Fundraising credentialing 31
4. Compensation: The intersection of valuation and accountability 51
5. Achieving diversity among fundraising professionals 63
6. Gender differences in giving: Going, going, gone? 71
7. Building the fundraising team 83
Index 95
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First Chapter

Fundraising as a Profession

Advancements and Challenges in the Field, No. 43

John Wiley & Sons

Copyright © 2004 WILEY PERIODICALS, INC.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-7879-7271-1

Chapter One

Measuring professionalism

Harland G. Bloland, Eugene R. Tempel

LIKE MEMBERS OF other occupations, fundraisers have an ongoing interest in improving their work and seeking recognition as professionals. However, practitioners and researchers are reluctant to grant fundraising the status of a fully matured profession. In the literature on fundraising as a profession, the conventional perspective is that the occupation is an emerging profession but has not yet obtained acceptance as a status profession (Carbone, 1989; Bloland and Bornstein, 1991; Duronio and Tempel, 1997; Hossler, 1999).

The in-between position of fundraising and other occupations aspiring to be professions has led to great interest in what constitutes a profession, and an extensive literature has developed on professions and professionalizing processes. At the beginning, interest centered on the gentlemanly professions: medicine, law, ministry, the military, and academia. Over time, these professionalized occupations accumulated so much prestige, legitimacy, and control over their work that other occupations sought the recognition and power that these status professions had acquired.

Lists were made of their most important characteristics, with the prospect that acquiring the central attributes of these professions would result in the professionalization of other occupations. Since the 1960s, commentators, led primarily by sociologists, have used a more or less standard list of professional traits to track the level of professionalization that occupations have attained.

The customary list of characteristics of a profession includes a body of applicable expert knowledge with a theoretical base, acquired through a lengthy period of training (preferably in a university), a demonstrated devotion to service, an active professional association, a code of ethics, and a high level of control over credentialing and application of the work. Other characteristics often cited are full-time work, a long-term commitment to the profession, and a strong sense of community within the profession.

The impact of change on the professionalization of fundraisers

The organizations we inhabit and the occupations and professions in which we work are profoundly influenced by continuous and rapid change: changes in culture, the economy, and communication technology; the advent of terrorism and war; perceptions of identity and the self; and the swift pace of a constantly globalizing world. Professions are susceptible to such change, since even subtle modifications in the environment may change the status of work lives and the nature of work. Changes in the environment have helped bring about changes in the status of fundraising for nonprofit organizations and modified how we perceive fundraising as a profession and how we understand the professionalization process.

In the twenty-first century, business perspectives and business methods permeate and dominate the economic, social, and political scene. In this environment, nonprofit organizations are being challenged to apply business-like management principles to their operations. The past decade has seen the rise of nonprofit management programs at colleges and universities across the United States, and some internationally as well. Research on best practices and the application of management principles based on this work have permeated all aspects of nonprofit organizations, including fundraising.

Two results of change affecting fundraisers and the nonprofit organizations in which they work are that fundraisers exist in a climate of insistent demands for accountability from donors and legislators and for increased emphasis on productivity. Both generate interest in, if not preoccupation with, measurement. Stakeholders are increasingly interested in assessing the outcomes from funds invested and policies and actions taken. Productivity augments fundraisers' desire to determine where they are in the professionalization process and furthers their need to compare themselves with others in their same circumstances.

Measuring accountability

Interest in measurement pervades our society. Accountability measures are an increasing part of the landscape for nonprofit organizations as they are for business and government. These measures are applied everywhere in the third sector, where legitimate and reliable means are sought for evaluating foundations, colleges and universities, elementary and secondary schools, charitable organizations, and community foundations.

Measuring professionalism

Occupations aspiring to professional status seek to determine how far along the road to professionalism they have traveled and how much further they need to go to achieve professional status. As occupations aspiring to professionalization seek measures that would indicate their progress and allow them to compare themselves with other occupations and already arrived professions, they want to acquire the acceptable characteristics and to measure and compare the progress of each trait.

The typical method of measuring professionalism is to take the standard list of characteristics and assess how many of these traits actual occupations possess, thus allowing for a rough measurement of professionalism (Goode, 1957). A variation on measuring professionalism is provided by Wilensky (1964), who asserts that occupations go through a five-step process that begins with doing the work full time and culminates with the creation of a formal code of ethics. The standard traits are encompassed in the steps. Since he sees the steps occurring in a particular sequence, measurement occurs by determining which steps the occupation has completed.

Although these general measures are helpful, verifiable and quantitative measures are considered more desirable. In the late 1960s, Hickson and Thomas (1969) constructed a Guttman scale from a sample of forty-three "qualifying associations" to measure degrees of professionalism along a continuum, which they assumed would allow for comparisons among professions and aspiring professions.

The trait lists

Despite the monumental changes affecting professionalism, the core professional trait list is still serviceable. Nevertheless, that list has flaws as a means of measuring professionalism. First, the relative importance of the traits is not addressed. Some of the characteristics are more important than others. Professional expertise and a service orientation appear to be more basic than the others, even if all are required. Measurement of professionalism would need to be weighted to account for this.

Second, "profession" is not a stable, unitary concept. At times, professions have been viewed by scholars with great respect and admiration. At other times, there has been a strong sentiment that professions are monopolistic conspiracies that operate to the detriment of the public.

Over time, as the work conditions under which fundraising and other professionals change, measures of what is considered professional may change in importance. For about fifty years until the 1960s, service orientation was the leading ideology of professions. In the 1960s, control over work characterized the professional ethos, and beginning in the 1970s, expertise began to emerge as the dominant feature of professionalism. One consequence of the rise of expertise as a major identifying characteristic of professionalism is that it has increased the universe of professions. Occupations of many kinds can now assert professional status based on their legitimate claim that they use expertise in solving a wide variety of problems. Fundraising is among them.

Fundraising is a profession

It has become apparent that the standard list of characteristics of professionalism is inadequate and some reinterpretation is in order. Many methods and purposes of the business world have been adapted in the third sector, and nonprofit organizations have been infused with the culture of professional management, incorporating much of the terminology and many of the practices of corporations. Fundraising executives have taken advantage of this process of incorporating aspects of the external environment, which has been called isomorphism, by avidly and successfully adapting skills and perspectives from business and developing standardized best practices that are commonly understood and taught to others. The professional trait of expertise is enhanced for fundraising executives since they have isomorphized a particularly prestigious knowledge: productivity based on business expertise. Based on the changes that have taken place in society, organizations, and occupations, Bloland (2002) has proposed that the fundraising environment has been so modified that fundraising now needs to be viewed in its changed context: a new environment that has greatly enhanced the claim of fundraising to be a profession. The changes have produced a modified definition of professionalism for fundraising as new dimensions associated with fundraising have emerged. Thus, there is a need to add to the conventional list of professional characteristics these contemporary traits of fundraising and offer them for measurement: location in and centrality to an organization, which is where most professions now work; expertise in standardized methods and business and nonprofit ideologies; and substantial increases in income (Bloland, 2002).

Adding to the claim by fundraisers to professional status is the exchange taking place between status professionals (such as physicians and lawyers) and managers in business organizations. Status professionals are becoming more managerial in their work, and managers are undergoing a professionalization process (Leicht and Fennell, 2001). General acceptance of administrators as professionals provides a larger universe of professionals, adding to the fundraisers' claim to recognition as a profession. For the most part, the additional characteristics are beneficial for fundraising practitioners because each of these new characteristics of professionalism constitutes an additional basis for the measurement of fundraising as a profession (Bloland, 2002).

Complications of trait measurement

Some of the individual traits of professionalism need methods of measurement different from others. For some of the traits, it is desirable to determine the level of progress along a continuum and compare that level with other occupations and professionals. Traits falling in this category include autonomy, expertise, altruism, education and training, and level of income. With such characteristics as having a professional association, a code of ethics, and an organization work site, measurement would appear simple: a profession either has each of them or does not. However, the measurement of such traits can be complicated. For example, professional associations are better and worse at furthering an occupation's quest for professionalism, and measures might be enlisted that would go beyond the mere existence of the association to assess the level of influence of the association or how well it serves its membership. Fundraising practitioners are served by a variety of associations, including some that are focused on subsector type, like religion, health care, museums, higher education, and ethnicity.

The service orientation is most concretely expressed in a written code of ethics, approved at the level of the professional organization and distributed widely, not only to the membership but to other stakeholders. Here again, having or not having a code of ethics would seem to be a simple but complete method of measurement of a professionalization trait. However, codes of ethics can be badly or well written. They may be too general or too specific, too stringent or too lax. They may miss the most significant measures of ethical behavior. More than twenty-six thousand fundraising practitioners have signed the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Code of Ethics, which provides for sanctions for unethical behavior. But it is unclear how widely the code is understood beyond the membership or whether the public understands the sanctions.

The characteristic of expertise seems straightforwardly open to measurement, a body of knowledge understood and demonstrated by the number of professional courses taken, years of apprenticeship, certification, licensure, and degrees. In addition, the new emphasis by practitioners on business and nonprofit management expertise also requires measurement. However, professional expertise has some odd qualities that make several aspects of expertise difficult to measure. If the expert knowledge appears to be too concrete, either the whole or parts of the knowledge base can be taken over and used by other occupations. If the knowledge base of theory is too abstract, it will appear to have little to do with practice and will be unpersuasive to clients and other stakeholders. Both extreme concreteness and extreme abstraction threaten a profession's credibility (MacDonald, 1995).

To find legitimate measures for this in-between status of expert knowledge is not easy. Despite the perils of excessive concreteness and abstraction, a viable profession needs both. The concreteness and abstraction problems can be usefully addressed by promoting a constantly changing body of knowledge and a diversified repertoire of skills that do not stray far from the purposes of the profession and the services it offers. It becomes apparent that the concept of profession is an ideal, which means that one can safely say that no profession ever fulfills all the requirements of that ideal.

Theory and judgment in professionalism

For a busy and successful fundraising professional, theory may seem obscure and hard to connect with practice. Yet theory that is generated through research is so significant that it is a major means for marking the difference between professions and nonprofessions. According to Abbott (1988), "only a knowledge system governed by abstractions [theory] can redefine its problems and tasks, defend them from interlopers, and seize new problems" (p. 9). Theories give professions flexibility, a means for acquiring and defending professional turf, legitimacy in the academic world, and a means for defining for the professionals in a field and others the scope and limits of the professional work. The fundraising profession has not paid extensive attention to theory building and does not have elegant and practical theories to apply to its work. Nevertheless, some interesting and promising starts have been made: Adrian Sargeant, Robert Payton, Paul Schervish and John Havens, Kathleen Kelly, and Bruce Cook and William Lasher have constructed theories of fundraising using the behavioral and social sciences as a foundation (Bornstein, 2003).


Excerpted from Fundraising as a Profession Copyright © 2004 by WILEY PERIODICALS, INC. . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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