Hiring Wisdom

Thanks to those who tuned in to my recent series on major gift development – I’ve appreciated your comments and questions! I believe that series prompted lots of great questions on our FB Live feature regarding finding the right development professional, nonprofit executive searches and staffing a nonprofit organization in general. So, we’ve decided to write our next blog series about this topic. I’ll look to answer questions like:

  • How do I know it’s time to hire a development professional or add a position to our team?
  • Should I look to find an executive recruiter or attempt to manage the search on my own?
  • What are the key components of a strong job description?
  • How do I weed through all of the resumes to find quality candidates?
  • How do I develop good interview questions?
  • Tips on conducting the interview – where, when, who should be included?

Then we’ll shift points of view and focus on you as the job seeker. I’ll cover thoughts on:

  • When it’s time to make a move
  • What to look for in a job description
  • Updating your resume and cover letter
  • How to be a great interviewee
  • Negotiating salary and benefits

I hope you’ll join me on this journey to learn more about recruiting and job seeking in the nonprofit world. I’ll focus many of my comments on recruiting for fundraising, marketing, operations and executive director positions. First – let’s think together about the decision to hire a new development/fundraising professional.

There is no exact science to evaluating the need for a new position on your advancement team, but there certainly are some basic indicators:

  1. You don’t have the time you need to focus on major gift development. In my recent series on major gift development, I talked about major gifts being the most critical part of your fundraising program. If you are finding that you do not have time in your schedule to dedicate yourself to the creation and implementation of a strategic cultivation and stewardship plan, it might be time to bring on another (or your first) development professional. Whether the issue is that you are being pulled into tasks and conversations about lower level giving opportunities, or you are needed for programmatic or operational oversight, it’s likely you either need to prioritize fundraising or hire someone new to oversee its development. The new hire might be tasked with entry or mid-level fundraising so that you are available to attend to major gift development, or, you can hire someone to oversee major gifts so that you can continue serving in your current role.
  2. Your fundraising program has plateaued. It’s hard to guarantee that a new staff member will generate a substantial number (or amount) of new gifts, but generally we can count on the fact that a good development professional will raise about 4x their salary in new gifts for annual campaign, and for capital campaigns, closer to 10x their salary. So if your campaign seems to have leveled off and you are wondering what it takes to access new donor markets, meet with more donors and prospects in person, or work with the board to tap into their networks, it might be worth the investment into a fundraising professional to take your campaign to the next level.
  3. You’ve launched a second line campaign. If your campaign team is maxed out with their work on annual campaign development and yet your strategic plan calls for the addition of a second or third line campaign (like capital, legacy or endowment), it might be time to hire an additional team member. Capital campaigns take an enormous amount of time and energy, and most annual fundraising teams cannot absorb these responsibilities into their day to day schedules. If your team is ready to launch a new campaign project, it might be worth exploring part time, full time, consulting or contracted assistance.

I hope you will tune in next Tuesday, May 22 at 2pm when I share thoughts about recruiting great talent and answering questions about managing fundraising campaigns live on Facebook.  In the next episode in this series, I’ll cover the pros and cons of partnering with an executive recruiter and explore what’s involved with managing the search on your own. Please join me!