If I get one more summary of a survey posing as “research,” I am going to scream just to hear something real!Many companies, not unlike Hartsook, are surveying their clients on everything from ethics to giving to employee trends. These can be mildly interesting at times, but not reliable.I just saw that AFP presented the results of a survey in which 400+ participants reported that they have an ethics question once a month.What? Who are these 400 institutions? What does an ethics question mean? How was the sampling selected? Tell me why this should matter to me, other than an unnamed group of nonprofits responded to a survey. If we are not going to be told of the methods, then we have to rely on the source. This was AFP. I want to rely on this source.If we’re conducting surveys for entertainment value, I would be more interested in knowing who these nonprofits are and why they responded to a survey in the first place. Now, that is interesting.Some of you who follow this blog know that I criticized the Fenton Group when they issued a headline that two thirds of donors surveyed said they were going to give the same or less in 2010. That means only 11 percent were giving less. So the real headline should have been that 89% of donors were going to give more or the same in 2010. But that’s not news. It doesn’t send a shockwave of fear and panic to fundraisers everywhere.To conduct a survey that tells us in these times that every fundraiser is confronted with ethics issues monthly is not enough. In particular, it is not enough for the AFP to issue the results.Paulette Maehara and I were quoted in the Inside Higher Ed online news dealing with Charlie Rangle. The article was about what the fundraiser should have done ethically as he sat there while Rangle solicited a corporation. I appreciate that the fundraisers should have raised an issue, but do we think the corporation didn’t know that Rangle wasn’t going to know of the gift to the center that bore his name? Let’s not be naive about these things. If we are going to name things after politicians then we should know that when we ask for money, we are going to be criticized. By the way, I have little to nothing in common with Rangel, but this is not a situation where the fundraiser should take the heat.Let’s return to my point. A survey about whether fundraisers are confronted with ethical issues hardly raises the bar. Let’s not spin our wheels. Let’s go somewhere!Hartsook Institutes has decided not to do original research but we do intend to comment on others’ work. There is some good research out there, but it is few and far between, and it takes time, thought and serious attention. But for the most part, my comment about limited surveys is, “so what?”
Hartsook President and CEO Matthew J. Beem Earns Ph.D.
Beem family: Joe, Matt, Kate,
Tom (not pictured, Maggie)
(Kansas City) Matt Beem recently earned a doctor of philosophy in organizational behavior and higher education administration from the University of Missouri – Kansas City. He defended his dissertation, Performance-Based Fundraiser Compensation: An Analysis of Preference, Prevalence and Effect, in December 2018.
Beem examined the preference for and prevalence of performance-based compensation and the relationship between it and productivity within the sample population of professional fundraisers. He reviewed the history of fundraiser compensation and prevalence of incentive pay in the nonprofit sector and among professional fundraisers, including its correlation to performance.
The Fundraiser Compensation Survey, an original study, was emailed by the Mid-America Chapter of Fundraising Professionals to more than 3,000 individuals. Findings revealed respondents’ dissatisfaction with the relationship between goal attainment, performance and compensation in their jobs. The study also found significant compensation differences based on respondents’ gender and ethnicity – findings different from research discussed in the literature review.
Beem’s dissertation adds important knowledge about the prevalence of and desire for performance-based compensation within the sample population. It also sheds light on the effect performance-based compensation has on the amount of money fundraisers raise.
Hartsook continues to be available to support nonprofit organizations in compensation plan design for its fundraisers, executive directors, CEOs and other senior leaders.