Hiring your new leader

Where does fundraising rank as a priority when searching for new leadership?

It happens all the time. “I quit!” or “You’re fired!” are the extremes that can mark the beginning of a crucial organizational change process. When you find yourself in the midst of a leadership transition it will be critical that your search team pays close attention to each candidate’s experience with and knowledge of fundraising. Yes, we know there is a long list of qualities and experiences that will be valuable, even critical. But you have to ask about fundraising, and you have to ask the right questions. Unless you have consistent access to funds whenever you need them, the financial health of your organization will rest on your new leader’s ability to attract and sustain funding.

Hiring your new leader

Here are a few questions to consider asking your candidates.

  1. As a nonprofit manager where does fund development and fundraising rank in terms of your priorities?
  2. Do you have a history of fundraising as a volunteer?
  3. Have you ever received formal training or coaching in the area of fund development?
  4. Have you ever served on a nonprofit board where you were involved with fundraising in a meaningful way?
  5. Please share with us a project where you had a major role in fundraising. What were the results?
  6. How do you feel about personally asking people for a gift?
  7. Have you ever been involved in cultivating and soliciting a major gift?
  8. Have you participated in developing and writing a proposal for funding?
  9. Do you have references that can verify your fund development and fundraising experience?
  10. How do you feel about being solicited for a gift?
  11. How do you measure fundraising success?
  12. How would you establish fundraising goals for the organization?
  13. How do you distinguish fund development from fundraising?
  14. How much time do you believe you should devote to fundraising?
  15. How will you evaluate the progress of the organization’s fundraising staff?
  16. What role do you believe a board should play in fundraising?
  17. What is your experience motivating and energizing people to fundraise?
  18. What will you need from the organization and its leaders in order for you to be successful in the area of fundraising?

Equally critical will be the questions that candidates ask about fundraising and the organizations finances. Listen for questions that ask about fundraising expectations and resources. Your ideal candidate will want to know her responsibilities, the depth and breadth of current financial support, and the board’s evaluation of fundraising processes and prospects.

When a nonprofit leader is fired it often boils down to the fact that the person did not meet expectations in regards to fundraising. When hiring a new executive director, college president, or grassroots leader you have to be clear on that person’s fundraising responsibilities. Do it now so your organization won’t find itself in the situation of “I quit!” or “You’re fired!”


Copyright 2018 – Mel and Pearl Shaw

Mel and Pearl Shaw believe in the power of volunteer leadership. If you want help growing your fundraising, call them at (901) 522-8727 or visit www.saadandshaw.com.

Photo courtesy of 123RF.com.

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