Higher Education Funding Council England (HEFCE)
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Higher education fundraising workforce must at least double, if not triple, by 2022 to unlock fundraising potential

A new report and toolkit set out practical steps to enable this to happen 

‘An emerging profession: The higher education philanthropy workforce’ is the first report to take a detailed look at the fundraising workforce in UK universities and colleges. The ‘Review of philanthropy in UK higher education’ in 2012 (the ‘Pearce report’) set an ambitious goal: that by 2022, universities and colleges would be raising £2 billion per year in gifts from 640,000 donors. The workforce – currently numbering around 1,800, with demand outstripping supply – will need to double, if not triple, if universities are to reach this potential. The new report makes recommendations on how to attract, retain and develop the extra staff needed to achieve that target, and supplies a toolkit for accomplishing this.

Professor Dame Shirley Pearce, the Review Group chair, said:

‘I hope that higher education fundraising becomes one of the careers of choice for our very best graduates. Our work has proved that investment in fundraising brings results whatever the size or type of university or college. If this success is to continue we must have a strong and growing group of educational fundraisers who are skilled in leading development teams and working with academics and institutional leaders.’

A clearer career path, the use of straightforward language to describe fundraising roles, and greater openness to candidates from a wide range of backgrounds, are among the report’s recommendations.

‘An emerging profession’ examines the qualities of a good fundraiser and outlines the skills, competencies and knowledge base needed in successful fundraising teams. The toolkit published with the report provides practical advice about what to look for, and how to recruit and retain top people.

The report, produced by specialist fundraising consultants More Partnership and recruitment specialists Richmond Associates, is the result of a consultation with 750 people across the sector. This included an online survey that was completed by a quarter of the fundraising workforce in higher education.

Madeleine Atkins, HEFCE Chief Executive, said:

‘Fundraising is now core to the plans of ambitious universities and colleges. This report is an important step along the path for this emerging profession, and I urge all those affected to take its recommendations seriously.’


  1. HEFCE set up the review of the philanthropic workforce in July 2013, in response to ‘Review of philanthropy in UK higher education: 2012 status report and challenges for the next decade’ (the ‘Pearce report’). 
    The new report, ‘An emerging profession’, aims to address the challenge of how to grow and develop the fundraising workforce in higher education. The review was chaired by Professor Dame Shirley Pearce, former Vice‑Chancellor of Loughborough University. The other review group members were:
    • Rory Brooks, Founder, Rory and Elizabeth Brooks Foundation
    • Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive, Universities UK
    • Kate Hunter, Executive Director, Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Europe
    • Shaun Horan, Managing Director, Graham-Pelton
    • Joanna Motion, Partner, More Partnership
    • Edith Prak, Director of Development, Open University
    • Professor Sir Rick Trainor, Principal, King’s College London.
  2. Fundraising consultancy More Partnership, in partnership with Richmond Associates, was commissioned by HEFCE to produce the report ‘An emerging profession’ following a review of data and relevant literature, interviews with institutions and donors, and an open consultation with those working in higher education fundraising.
  3. The 2012 ‘Review of philanthropy in UK higher education’ showed what success there had been in growing philanthropic support to universities in the previous 10 years. The report concluded that if the current rate of acceleration in philanthropic income were to continue, UK universities would attract gifts worth £2 billion a year from some 640,000 donors by 2022.
  4. Some 1,842 staff are involved in alumni relations and development in UK higher education, with approximately two-thirds in fundraising and one-third in alumni relations, according to the latest published Ross- CASE survey (2013). This is a small proportion of the total fundraising workforce in charities in the UK. While there is no record of the overall number of fundraisers in the UK, the Institute of Fundraising reported that it provided online support to 18,293 fundraisers and engaged a further 6,000 in face-to-face training in 2012-13. The Institute’s membership was 5,469 in 2012-13, an increase of 6 per cent on the previous year.
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