Recruiting and Retaining the Best and Brightest
For the past 27 years, I’ve been recruiting senior-level development professionals and training younger, aspiring individuals to be fundraising consultants and executive recruiters in the nonprofit world.
In all my years of consulting with nonprofit leaders and their boards, I’ve learned that finding and holding on to great talent is no easy feat, yet it’s one of the most pivotal factors contributing to an organization’s success in fundraising.
Today’s job market is tough for nonprofits looking for talented professionals. With 190,484 new tax-exempt charities created since 1999, according to the Internal Revenue Service, newer organizations are looking to hire their first fundraising-staff members while older nonprofits are increasing staff size — branching out beyond direct mail and special events into individual major gifts and planned giving.
It’s truly a seller’s market with more jobs than qualified people to take them, more capital campaigns than campaign directors. The career listings and Web postings are filled with endless opportunities at every skill level, for every possible type of charitable mission.
It’s a great time to be an employee in the nonprofit world, no doubt about it.But, in spite of the abundant opportunity for fundraisers, turnover in our field remains high and still stands as the greatest threat to building a strong development program.
Why is there so much turnover? When the wrong hire was made in the first place, the answer is simple: bad fit, unmatched skill set and unclear communication of expectations.
When a new hire fails to pan out, it can take an organization up to two years to realize that it’s made a mistake before convening a new search. Turnover always will be a factor in small development departments that are unable to provide a career ladder and adequate compensation packages. Development officers are forced to move out in order to move up.