Kelly Colvin-Smith—Senior Alumni Relations Officer
Said Business School, University of Oxford—Oxford
United Kingdom
Samples, Research & Tools
CASE Statements on Compensation for Fundraising Performance

Commission-based Compensation
External and Third-party Compensation
Supplemental Compensation


Commission-based Compensation

CASE discourages commission-based compensation for all fundraising employees of member institutions. It is recommended that all fundraising staff work for a salary, retainer, or fee, not a commission. Compensation should be predetermined and not based on a percentage of funds raised.

This recommendation is based on the following beliefs:

  1. Commissions will encourage inappropriate conduct by fundraisers anxious to secure gifts at any cost, whether or not those gifts meet the objectives of the institution they serve.
  2. Commission-driven fundraisers could potentially draw compensation well above an equitable level in relation to services rendered when, in the final analysis, it is the institution and not the fundraiser that both attracts and merits charitable support.
  3. Major gifts, which often require long-term cultivation, could be jeopardized by fundraisers seeking a swift donor response to benefit their own personal compensation goals.
  4. Gift support might be lost if potential major donors realize that a percentage of their donation will go directly to the fundraiser.
  5. Commission fundraising discourages the use of volunteers.
  6. Since charities do not know exactly what motivates a donor to make a gift, it is difficult to determine the amounts of compensation to which a fundraiser might be entitled under a commission/salary arrangement.

Approved in 1991 and reaffirmed in 2005


External and Third-party Compensation

The Principles of Practice for Fundraising Professionals at Educational Institutions indicates that in addition to not accepting external compensation for the receipt of a gift or information leading to a gift, individuals will:

  • not accept external compensation for the receipt of a gift or information leading to a gift.
  • not agree to pay compensation to individuals in respect of a gift or information leading to a gift.

Approved in 2005


Supplemental Compensation

Supplemental compensation, often described as a bonus, is a form of additional, performance-based compensation beyond base salary designed to motivate and recognize positive employee performance and/or the achievement of specific goals. Those goals may be expressed in qualitative or quantitative forms and may focus on the achievement of certain thresholds or benchmarks.

When making compensation decisions, CASE urges institutions to consider underlying principles, including the importance of adherence to the institution's mission, values and strategic goals; the importance of relationship building with constituents; and the value placed on collaborative teamwork.

While CASE strongly opposes paying fundraisers a commission, we recognize that some forms of supplemental compensation may be appropriate and represent sound management practice.

CASE offers the following guidelines regarding supplemental compensation programs to be applied to all institutional staff members or teams engaged in fundraising, including institutional leaders and fundraising professionals.

Note that these guidelines should be considered within the context of an institution's existing compensation policies and are not intended to preclude or substitute for those policies.

Supplemental compensation programs should:

  1. Not be expressed as a percentage of individual gifts or aggregate giving, since doing so would constitute a commission
  2. Be based on pre-set goals that have been clearly stated and agreed-upon in advance by the employee and the institution (note that this guideline is not intended to preclude bonuses for exceptional individual or team achievement that may be allowable under an institution's compensation policies)
  3. Relate goals to the fundraising context, given that potential to raise funds and associated effort required may vary widely across positions and operating units
  4. Not serve as a replacement for base salary or result in under-compensation of employees who meet their job expectations

Approved in 2010

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