3 Tips To Find Your First Fundraising Professional - Part 3

Here’s the last - and probably most important - tip for finding your first fundraising professional. Part 1 and Part 2.


This will take some time, but every minute spent developing a thoughtful job description will pay off. Potential #fundraising candidates will learn from your job posting about your organization and what you are looking for.


Don't use a basic or generic #fundraising job description that you may have found online. Your lack of attention and thought will come across in the job description and impact the pool of candidates.


Use the job description to provide important background on the position and communicate your vision for the role. Share what an ideal candidate would bring to the job (for example, qualifications, years in the field, type of experience, skills, knowledge, or familiarity with your mission).


Ideas that can make a difference for your candidates


Provide details: This is your opportunity to showcase who you are and how you work. Most importantly, share how you have been raising funds so far. This inventory will help you methodically identify the top candidates during the application process.


Make it personal - put your future team member front and center: Address your future team member and speak directly to him/her in your job description. For example, use “You” throughout the job description. And ask yourself how can you create a job description that attracts even fundraisers who are not actively looking for a new opportunity. Is your mission described in a compelling manner? We all heard about being donor-centered, I encourage you to be "#fundraising candidate"-centered to attract talent.


Provide a window into your culture: Share with your future team member what it’s like to work in your organization - remember, that one of the job applicants will be your future colleague and partner. And culture is part of what will attract the right candidates.


Describe the contribution the future fundraiser will make to the team: Qualified candidates will be attracted to apply for the position when they see themselves as being able to flourish in the role, when they are empowered and invited to bring creative ideas and solutions to the organization, and valued as a member of the larger team. Especially, mid-level and senior professionals want to lead and be able to participate in the organization’s strategic decision making.


Avoid the buzz-word trap


Yes, avoid the trap by refraining from using buzz-words and phrases. Be aware that job candidates read between the lines and that buzz-words can tell a different story on the other side of the hiring process. Make sure you articulate your expectations well and that they align with everything stated in your job description.


Buzz-words and phrases can often tell different messages, including phrases such as

"Looking for a ...

  • Self-starter" - Questions for a candidate: "Will I have any support? Will the executive director take ownership of helping me be successful? Do they expect me to do everything from day one?"

  • Professionals that succeed in entrepreneurial environment" - Questions for a candidate: "Is that a positive description or does it camouflage that the organization is not well-structured or does not respect a work-life-balance?"

  • Professional to bring his/her contacts and relationships" - Questions for a candidate: "I am happy to introduce my contacts to the organization, but donors are not transferable, does the organization expect that I bring donors to the organizations?") or

  • Rainmaker" - Questions for the candidate: Are they expecting me to perform miracles? It is an art and science to raise funds and attract new donors, and it is a big team effort, and it can take a long-time to cultivate prospects. Is the nonprofit leadership involved in fundraising and making introductions to their networks?")

Now, it is time to share the fundraising opportunity far and wide. Post the position on fundraising and nonprofit sites and your own website, share the job description with your contacts and donors, colleagues, and friends. All the best for your search, and congratulations again for making the strategic decision to hire for your organization's first fundraising position.


Tanja Sarett, MA, CFRE, CVF, is a global fundraising consultant, facilitator, and executive coach based in New York / New Jersey. She activates team-centered innovation and creative and synergistic solutions for visionary organizations and philanthropies. Tanja is an onsite and virtual facilitator, trainer and executive coach, an AFP Master Trainer and a 21/64 Multigenerational Giving Advisor. She brings to her work a wide range of collaborative and creative techniques from IDEO Design Thinking, Liberating Structures, the Technology of Participation, and the Agile community.

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