Tag Archives: fundraising jobs

Five Compelling Questions to Ask When Interviewing for a Fundraising Job

Job Application, New Hires, Questions to Ask during an interviewYou’ve been selected to interview for a fundraising position. You’ve read the job description; researched the organization online; you’ve even talked with people who have been involved with the nonprofit over the years. You feel it inside: “this could be my dream job.” Yes, it could. But, it could also be a nightmare.

Read Part One: Five Thought Provoking Questions to Ask a Potential New Hire

Careful interview preparation can help inform your career path and save you some frustration. Listen to your heart, but take the time to develop and ask a few specific questions. This is your opportunity to find out whether or not you will be able to be succeed in the position you are interviewing for. Reflect on past experiences – what made your positions exciting and which made going to work a drudgery. Develop a few questions that you believe will uncover the information you need to make an informed decision.

Here are five to consider.

  1. How is fundraising success measured within this organization? How do you intend to evaluate my work? Beyond meeting the fundraising goal, what are the factors that determine success or failure? If the interviewer doesn’t know these, it may be hard for you to “meet the mark.”
  2. What resources will the organization provide to ensure my success? For example, what percentage of time does the executive director allocate to fundraising on a regular basis? How are board members involved in fundraising, beyond oversight and policy approval? Will I be allowed to contact board members directly? No matter how talented you are you already know that you cannot succeed without leadership’s full engagement.
  3. Is the organization working from a fundraising plan? If selected for a second interview, can arrangements be made for me to review the plan before that interview? Is your current fundraising volunteer led or is it staff led? Again, if the interviewer doesn’t know that should be a red flag.
  4. Did the organization meet its annual fundraising goal last year? Were there any “extraordinary” gifts that impacted the final numbers? Related questions can include: what was the annual goal? Was it meaningfully larger or smaller than the prior year? Was the annual goal met in the prior year? How is the annual goal determined, and by whom? These questions will reveal the extent to which the interviewer knows and understands fundraising.
  5. Please share with me the specific fundraising skills and experience you expect from the person you hire. Answers to this question can quickly reveal if your experience is a fit.

Here’s the bottom line: if you are reporting to someone who doesn’t know fundraising it may be a challenge for you to be successful. It’s better to know before you start a new position.

Additional reading on  career success as a fundraising professional: 

5 Things to Consider Before Accepting a Fundraising Position

How to Keep a Fundraising Job

Fundraising Fables: Retaining Fund Development Professionals  

5 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Nonprofit Fundraising Professional

How to Hire a Fundraiser

Image courtesy of phasinphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

Five Thought Provoking Questions to Ask a Potential New Hire

fundraising, FUNdraising Good Times, fundraising jobs, how to hire a fundraiser, interview questions, Saad&ShawNeed a magic cure for nonprofit fundraising blues? Hire fundraising staff. That’s it. Problem solved. Time to get back to what we were focusing on before we “got sidetracked” into all this fundraising. Ah…. if only that were the case.

If you have funds to hire staff how will you know you are hiring the right person? How will you evaluate this person? Will you know how to manage and coach your new hire? Will you depend on their progress reports to know whether or not they are “doing their job?”

We raise these questions because we have found many organizations seek to build a fundraising program or increase their fundraising by making a new hire. That can be the right solution, but there are other prerequisites that need to be in place for a fundraising professional to be successful. Alas, making a hire is not the silver bullet!

Earlier columns address things to consider when hiring. You can find links at the bottom of this post. In this column we offer five questions to ask during the interview process. A candidate’s responses can provide insights to help you determine who is best qualified to help you meet your fundraising goals.

  1. How do you feel about asking for money? This is really at the core of fundraising. Feelings about money – and people who have money – color many people’s consciousness and can interfere with fundraising. At a basic level being afraid to ask for a gift means a fundraising professional may hesitate when soliciting. Confusing one’s own economic conditions with those who have more can cloud a solicitation with an unconscious attitude of “they have enough, they should just give us some.”
  2. Share with me a professional or volunteer project you started and developed into something meaningful that you are proud of. Please share the challenges you faced, the solutions you proposed, and lessons learned.
  3. How do you want to be evaluated at the end of your first year working with our organization? Answers to this question can provide insights into what is important to a candidate, and how they evaluate their work.
  4. What resources and support do you believe you would need to succeed in this position? Learning a candidate’s expectations can help you prepare to bring him into your organization. You may also learn that you need to be better prepared to work with a professional, or that he has expectations you may not be able to meet.
  5. How would prepare for this position? This lets candidates know you expect them to prepare: success in a new position is a two-way street. How a person prepares for a new job may also reveal how they prepare for a solicitation or new campaign.

Additional reading on hiring fundraising professionals:

5 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Nonprofit Fundraising Professional

How to Hire a Fundraiser

Fundraising Fables: Retaining Fund Development Professionals  

To Hire or Plan? Which come first

Next week: Five questions for job candidates to ask!

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

Five Questions to Ask When Hiring a Nonprofit Fundraising Professional

 fundraising, FUNdraising Good Times, job search, fundraising jobs, job interview, how to interview a fundraiser, fundraising career, how to hire a fundraiser If you need to hire a fundraising professional you are in good company. This is one of the hardest positions to fill. It is even harder to retain a talented fundraiser. We have written extensively on these topics over the years because they are a major issue confronting the nonprofit sector.

The number of experienced fund development and fundraising professionals is much smaller than the pool of organizations that need such people. The pool of talent gets even smaller when looking for people who have experience with a diversity of fundraising methods. It is most challenging when looking for an individual who can manage the fundraising function for your organization or institution. This is coupled by a structural challenge: good fundraisers are not necessarily good fundraising managers. Yet the pathway to professional success is often tied to a move from fundraising to management. This is not always a good idea as the strengths of fundraisers are not always the strengths of fundraising managers.

To help you make the right hire, we suggest asking some out of the box questions. Whether you need someone to manage your fundraising, or someone to raise money the questions you ask can influence your hire. Try some of the following:

  1.  What is your history of volunteerism and community involvement? This lets you know a candidate’s appreciation for the nonprofit sector and her understanding of the challenges faced by organizations and volunteers.
  2.  Mentorship and training – who has she been mentored by? Worked under? Which seasoned professional or volunteer has shaped her career? Formal training is hard to come by, but good habits are learned from respected professionals.
  3.  Project development and management – what has your candidate created from scratch? What did she start and manage? Don’t worry about success: you want to learn about her initiative and how she approaches a goal.
  4.  How well has she prepared for the interview? What types of questions does she ask in the interview? Do those questions reflect creative research of your organization? How a candidate prepares for an interview is a clue to how she may approach work with a donor.
  5.  What is her work history and track record? Ask about growth with an organization or within a position; impact of her work; and length at previous positions – has she stayed long enough for organizations to benefit from her tenure? Was she a team player or a loner? Listen to language: do you hear “I raised $99 million in 90 days” or “Together our staff, board and volunteers exceeded our goal.” Does she mention working from a plan? Engaging and supporting volunteers?

Consider these suggestions as you prepare to make your next hire: out-of-the box questions can help you learn what you need to know.

Releated Articles:

1.     How to Hire a Fundraiser  https://fundraisinggoodtimes.com/2012/08/21/how-to-hire-a-fundraiser/

2.     To Hire or To Plan – Which comes first? https://fundraisinggoodtimes.com/2011/04/08/hiring-fundraiser/

3.     Fundraising Fables: Retaining fundraising professionals https://fundraisinggoodtimes.com/2014/07/21/fundraising-fables-retaining-fund-development-professionals/

4.     Your fundraising quarterback: Staff https://fundraisinggoodtimes.com/2012/02/23/your-fundraising-quarterback-staff/

5.     I’ll take a percentage https://fundraisinggoodtimes.com/2009/06/03/fundraising-ethics/

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

Five things to consider before accepting a fundraising position

fundraising, FUNdraising Good Times, job search, fundraising jobs, fundraising careerThe possibility of a new position as a fund development or fundraising professional brings excitement and anticipation. A new position could mean the opportunity to “finally” put one’s professional skills to use. Maybe with a new position there will be greater opportunities to implement best practices and to meet – or even exceed – goals. Maybe, and maybe not. There are so many variables that impact a professional’s ability to work his or her craft, most of which are beyond their control. If you are considering a new position don’t let the allure of “greener pastures” keep you from researching your potential employer. Here are five things to consider before accepting a fundraising position.

  1.  Organization’s or institution’s mission, vision, value, goals. Do you know what these are? Are they consistently communicated by all parties during your interviews? Do you agree with these? Will they motivate you day-after-day?
  2.  Job description, turnover in the position, budget and resources you will have to work with. During your interviews ask questions about the job description: what percentage of your time will be allocated to the different responsibilities? How much time will be spent on “other duties as assigned?” What budget and resources will you have? Will you control their use or will you need the approval of others? What has been the tenure of other individuals in the position over the past 10 years? What were the reasons for their departure?
  3.  Leadership stability and local/national recognition. Is the president or CEO recognized as a leader in his/her field? How long has he/she held the position? The previous executive? What role does the board play in fundraising? How much do they give and raise collectively each year?
  4.  Planning tools, their use and track record/results. Does the organization actively engage in planning and then work from those plans? Are the following in place: financial plan, business plan (including sustainability and growth projections), strategic plan, fundraising plan? What is its financial status? Is fundraising proactive and volunteer driven or is there a history of “emergency fundraising?”
  5.  Public perception. How is organization perceived by local/regional/national leaders, decision makers and funders? What do the people served think of the organization? When you do a Google search, what do you find? What do your neighbors say?

You may find yourself applying for your “dream job.” Don’t let the glow of your expectations stop you from taking a close look at organizational realities. Your negotiating power is typically greatest before you join an organization, so do your homework and negotiate a position and environment you want to work in. Don’t be afraid to turn down an offer: doing so may be the right decision.

Next week: Five things to consider when hiring a fundraising professional

Image courtesy of ponsulak at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.