As government funding avenues become ever more uncertain, For-Purpose organisations are continuously looking for ways to diversify their income streams. In the quest to seek and secure diversified funding channels that sustain vital services and programs, many organisations are choosing to engage a fundraising manager. (Let’s be honest though, it is a rare luxury to be in a position to engage one person for one role if you work for a For-Purpose organisation. More commonly you will find that the fundraising manager is also the marketing manager, business development manager, events manager, membership officer or even the CEO!) These challenges aside, the question I get asked is ‘how do we recruit the right fundraising person for our organisation?’
Recognising that there are particular skills that you require a fundraising manager to possess is the first step, but by no means the full story. Skills and experience tell you a lot about a person and what kind of expertise they can potentially bring to your organisation, but particularly in the case of seeking the ideal fundraising manager, delving into the kind of person they are will allow you to have a greater chance at long term success in hiring and retaining the right people. There are certain attributes that successful fundraisers possess:
KEY ATTRIBUTES OF A GREAT FUNDRAISING MANAGER
- Excellent communicator
- Great negotiator
- Self confident
- Active listener
- Ability to ‘think on their feet’
- Is a ‘people person’ and loves building relationships
- Confident decision-maker
- The ability to acquire a ‘whole of organisation’ view quickly and easily
The question to ask yourself is, what’s your objective?
Depending on the kind of role you are looking to fill, there may be other qualities you are seeking in a potential candidate. For instance, if the fundraising role is a newly created one within your organisation and there are no processes or policies in place around how you expect this role to function within the team, then someone who is a self-starter, with the ability to be entrepreneurial and innovative may be highly regarded.
On the other hand, if you are seeking to fill an established fundraising role, knowing that you would like processes to be carried out in a certain way, then the idea of having an innovative person join the team who may wish to recreate the role you’ve worked hard to establish might not be qualities that you value highly. Each role and organisation is different, and so are the qualities you seek in potential candidates.
A good way to gauge whether a prospective fundraising manager will fit into your organisation and team, and whether they possess the attributes you are seeking is to ask values-based and scenario-based questions. These types of questions delve into a person’s values code and are going to give you the best chance of finding the right person for the right role. The key, however is to take care to ask questions in a way that there is no clear right or wrong answer, this will ensure that people tap into their own creativity, values and moral code, rather than tell you what they think you want to hear.
There are a myriad questions you could ask that will give you an insight into how proactive, independent, creative, ethical and confident a candidate might be. Here are a few examples:
- ‘Imagine that we have no current fundraising policies or procedures in place and you are approached by a company to seek further information about collaborating in a cause marketing campaign. What would you do?’
- ‘Imagine that a well known, high net worth individual approaches our organisation seeking to contribute, but there are concerns around recent negative publicity this person has been involved in. How would you handle that situation?’
- ‘As part of our Sponsorship Policy, we offer annual corporate partners exclusivity in their respective industry or product category. Imagine that you are approached by two popular competing brands to partner with our organisation. What steps would you take to achieve the best outcome?’
This line of questioning will give you a wealth of information about the thought processes a candidate goes through to reach an outcome. Combined with the more traditional questions that focus on skills and expertise, this type of interview will provide you with a much fuller insight into the person ‘behind the resume.’