Tag Archives: job search

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.