From our President & CEO . . .
I had the opportunity to serve as the guest speaker for Jim Eskin’s Non-Profit Empowerment Workshop a few weeks ago, held at Microsoft in San Antonio. Below is the second part of our interview about retaining fundraising talent.
Jim: For candidates who don’t have fundraising experience, what would make their backgrounds attractive to a non-profit?
Sally: That depends on the nonprofit and the job. We find that people in relational sales jobs can be very good fundraisers, and even bring a set of skills and training that could help others in the organization. For example, an investment manager has to be proactive to create a portfolio of business and she needs to build genuine relationships with her clients. That can translate well to the fundraising world. We have also occasionally recruited out of the conventional sales or corporate world, including recruiting a gentleman who worked at Louis Vuitton–a place where the sales people really get to know their clients and proactively work to serve them.
Jim: How should a non-profit view the pros and cons of internal vs. external candidates?
Sally: I am an advocate for hiring qualified internal candidates, and building career paths and succession plans within an organization if at all possible. Keeping a great employee and their institutional history and knowledge is a great bet, and will help reduce the number of fundraisers leaving an institution after a short tenure.
The pros of bringing in an outside candidate include fresh ideas and fresh eyes on your program. You can also hire someone who has a great strength in an area of need in your program. The cons include time to build relationships and know your organization.
Jim: How do you recommend that a nonprofit, especially a smaller one, organize a search committee?
Sally: Include stakeholders–Board members, colleagues, others who will interact regularly with this person and of course HR. Involve direct reports in meeting with finalists; they are a wealth of knowledge, but should never be given the impression that they get to choose their boss. Prior to launching the search, ensure everyone on the committee understands their role.
Jim: What are your suggestions for people who want to enter the fundraising profession?
Sally: DO IT! It is one of the most rewarding professions in the world, especially for those who truly believe in the power and magnificence of philanthropy.