5 Guidelines for Finding the Right Fundraising Professional
Getting the right team around you is one of the most important factors in your fundraising program's success. Here are five guidelines for ensuring that you make the right hire.
1. Known beats unknown any day
We all have strengths and weaknesses. If you have a strong internal candidate, don't be swayed by an external candidate who may seem to shine just a bit brighter on paper. I've seen so many searches — even highly touted national searches — that end up with candidates who get through the process but don't work out because they really aren't who they appeared to be. If you have worked with someone, you know his or her strengths and weaknesses firsthand.
2. Ethics is No. 1
There are many attributes you develop in a profile, but No. 1 should always be ethics. Surround yourself — and your donors — with good and honest people. Don't waiver on this. You'll never regret making integrity first.
3. There is no 'fundraising personality'
A good fundraiser needs to genuinely connect with different type personalities. I have seen donors drawn to and turned off by fundraisers who are outgoing, more reserved and in between! You need someone who is sincere and who reflects your culture. You want someone with a strong work ethic, who gets along with people, communicates well and is always willing to learn.
4. Don't let a process kill the opportunity
If you have a candidate that you prefer, don't go through a search process just to validate your choice — unless you have organizational requirements. So often this is just wasting the time of other professionals who earnestly apply as well as your time and other internal resources. If you know who you need, then make the decision.
5. Be very clear
Share your leadership style, your organization's culture, performance expectations, the process for evaluation, and a situational analysis of your department and the organization with candidates. Don't hold back — relate the good and the bad! Many of us have taken a job in an organization where the job or the organization clearly wasn't what was portrayed. If you are facing challenges, let candidates know — you need someone who will rise to the occasion!
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.