Finding First-rate Fundraisers

It would be easy to assume that the small number of fundraising jobs advertised is indicative of an industry kicking goals in the area of recruitment. However our industry leaders tell a different story, confiding in us that hiring fundraisers is more challenging than it has ever been.

Our industry is changing and so are the qualities, skills and experiences required to succeed in a fundraising career. Fundraisers and not for profit marketers have always been a unique breed, but today they need to be passionate, multi-talented, multi-taskers who can integrate new technologies with traditional forms of fundraising.

While recruitment challenges of the past have revolved around where to find the best person for the job, today’s leaders are increasingly questioning what kind of person they need for the job.

Like smart business development managers or marketers, good (or should we say great) fundraisers are personable, results driven, good time managers and effective communicators. However, when advising clients on recruitment, there are a number of other things we suggest they look for and here we share our top three with you.

1. Critical Thinking. First-rate fundraisers scenario plan, monitor analysis, test, take risks and balance new initiatives with proven strategies. They think out the box and appreciate the different types of fundraising principles and strategies – some more tangible and measureable than others. Ask potential candidates about a new fundraising idea/program they have tried to get endorsed by leadership and how they have pitched this for their approval. Have them explain how they scope out the idea, plan to manage any risks or test their theory. A solid candidate will give you a thoughtful, detailed answer and won’t shoot from the hip.

2. Dedication to their art. We all know that fundraising is more art than science. It takes patience, practice and a passion to be successful. Asking about how a candidate got into the fundraising profession, or why they want to enter it, will help give you an insight into the depth of their passion. In order to gauge their dedication, ask about past learning experiences. A first-rate fundraiser will seek out their own opportunities outside of their role. They may spend time reading, have a mentor or attend conferences and seminars. They will know what is going on in the industry and be able to speak confidently and knowledgably about current issues and trends.

3. A sound understanding of the basics. No person can run before they can walk, and no fundraiser can succeed without understanding the basic principles of fundraising. When inviting a candidate for an interview, ask them to bring in a 1 page letter asking for a donation to a key project being undertaken by your organisation. A first rate fundraiser will a) bring the letter as requested and b) give you something that is researched, donor focused, well-written and compelling with a direct ask.

The recruitment process can be as daunting for the recruiter as it is for the candidates, taking up valuable time and resources. It is not unusual for us to see important projects stall while a new member of the team is found and bought up to speed. But did you know OKP can help with every stage and aspect of the recruitment process? We can even provide members of our expert team on secondment to ensure you stay on track when having to replace a key member of staff. To find out more about our human resource services, please call on 1300 721 799 or email


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