Introducing the new Advanced Diploma in Fundraising

Introducing the new Advanced Diploma in Fundraising

A new international fundraising qualification will create an environment where fundraising can flourish, says Adrian Sargeant


There have been relatively few occasions in the past 20 years when the world’s major professional associations have worked collaboratively on a venture, but the fruits of one such labour are due to be launched in November. The Institute of Fundraising (IoF), the Association of Fundraising Professions (AFP) and the European Fundraising Association (EFA) will launch a new high-level fundraising qualification that will be accredited by all three bodies.

The new Advanced Diploma in Fundraising will be taught at Level 7, which is the same level as a Masters degree. It will be academically rigorous, based on the latest research in fields as diverse as marketing, economics, organisational behaviour and psychology. While the existing qualifications – the Certificate and the Diploma in Fundraising – provide the knowledge and understanding needed to carry out and manage fundraising, the new qualification will focus on how to create the environment in which outstanding fundraising can flourish.

The IoF’s director of professional development and membership, Paul Marvell, explains: “The Advanced Diploma is the final piece of the jigsaw in the qualifications framework we have been working so hard to introduce over the past two years. The launch is particularly significant because the Advanced Diploma is the only international, advanced level fundraising qualification available in the world, and it will be recognised throughout North America and Europe through our partnerships with AFP and EFA. It therefore represents the pinnacle of any senior fundraiser's professional development and will be highly prized by fundraising leaders and employers alike.”


Latest research

The first three units of the Advanced Diploma focus on creating the institutional environment for fundraising to flourish. The first unit will address conflict between an organisation’s various marketing functions, each operating with a silo mentality. The second unit builds on this by exploring how non-profits can develop a donor or stakeholder orientation. It considers the benefits culture change can deliver and concludes by exploring the latest research and thinking on identity. Unit three examines strategic fundraising planning and the management of a fundraising portfolio. It concludes by looking at how the performance of fundraising should be reported, both to the public and to the board. Participants will also learn of the wider implications of that reporting for public trust and confidence in the sector.

The final unit focuses on the role of the fundraiser in developing a society where philanthropy is properly valued, stewarded and developed. It introduces a number of ideas from philanthropic psychology and ethics, and will encourage participants to reflect on how their professional practice could be modified to add more value for donors. They will also explore the potential to increase philanthropy by developing new audiences, channels and methods of giving while reviewing the latest trends and assessing the available research.

The course concludes by examining the relationship of the sector with government and sector umbrella bodies, and what might be done to achieve a favourable policy environment to stimulate giving further.


Cutting edge

The new Advanced Diploma is an exciting development because a high proportion of the material covered will be new. Many of the theories and frameworks have never before been taught.

The diploma will also break new ground by being the only professional qualification that will be entirely delivered through ‘active learning’ and ‘just in time’ teaching approaches. Rather than prepare the sessions weeks in advance, sessions will be prepared based on the understanding of each group and focus on the examples provided by each participant. That way, the emphasis will be firmly on identifying roadblocks for individuals and helping them develop thinking skills to create their own solutions to real world problems.

Participants will prepare for each individual session of the class by working through a detailed questionnaire, testing their knowledge of assigned readings/cases and their ability to relate what they learn to their own professional practice. These questionnaires will be analysed by the course team and used to prepare the sessions that will be delivered to each student group.

Fundraising education will be at the forefront of innovation using cutting-edge teaching and learning technologies to provide real value for participants.

For more information on the Advanced Diploma in Fundraising please e-mail and quote ‘Advanced Diploma’ in the subject line.


Adrian Sargeant PhD is a professor of fundraising at the Centre on Philanthropy at Indiana University and honorary fellow of the Institute of Fundraising

This article first appeared in The Fundraiser magazine, Issue 28, April 2013

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