Fundraising is a relational business. In order to reach your potential in raising money for your nonprofit, nothing is more important than the talent you have on your fundraising team. Major gift fundraisers are particularly important.
For some, the problem is simply that they don’t have enough people on their fundraising team. You can’t win without players in the game. Even if someone on your team has fundraising in their job description, all too often they aren’t doing the job they’re paid to do. One thing I like to say to people is that “fundraising is a contact sport”. To win, you need to be out there making contact with donors! We’ve seen scores of so-called fundraisers who keep busy doing everything except the one thing they ought: making calls and closing deals with donors.
One of the most enduringly popular articles I’ve ever written – Top Ten Characteristics of Top-Producing Fundraisers — makes the case that the combination of characteristics needed to succeed in fundraising is quite rare. Painful as it may be, sooner or later we have to face the hard truth that too many fundraisers are simply not gifted to do the work they’ve been hired to do. Countless among them jump from job to job every couple of years, tacking another set of overstated accomplishments onto their (overly lengthy) resumes and one more tranche of unmet expectations in their wake. Sadly, there always seems to be another unwitting organization waiting to welcome them with open arms.
Many others have raw talent but suffer from a lack of training or direction. Thirty years ago, I happened into my first fundraising job while in my early twenties. I was green as grass, yet my employer did nothing to train me. I sought out help and was fortunate to find someone who was willing to invest time into mentoring me. I credit him for helping me gain traction; without his help I’d have been spinning my wheels, like too many others.
If you want to do better at raising more money for your nonprofit, be more deliberate in finding and developing talent. Personality tests (such as DiSC and Myers-Brigg) will help you see if your candidates have skills and characteristics that fit the job. But don’t only focus on personality. The best indicator of future performance is prior success, so make sure you’ve done your homework to verify how your candidates performed in past positions. And then invest in training and developing your people. Maybe even invest in some professional coaching—a small price to pay for what will likely yield a significant boost in their productivity.
Do you need help finding and recruiting a top-talented fundraiser at your nonprofit? We have the marketplace knowledge, understanding, expertise, and access to networks and relationships that are critical to succeed in recruiting top fundraising talent, and have helped numerous other organizations find some outstanding performers. Why not put our team to work for you? Contact us today to get started.