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12 Questions That Lead to Hiring the Best Professional Fundraisers

By Parool Shah posted 01-05-2023 16:22


Good professional fundraisers are hard to find…and difficult to retain. So, what can we do as prospective employers to hire fundraising talent that suits our needs and organisation?

Screening Tips From a Recruiter in the Sector
As a former fundraiser who has moved into the fundraising, philanthropy, and advancement recruitment sector, I know first-hand that screening is crucial to hiring success. It is the first step that any applicant must face, and it is important to ensure you don’t miss out on your dream candidate.

Hiring the “right” talent requires an investment of time and energy. The last thing you want is to be so restrictive you lose out on quality people. You may also need to think outside the box and be creative.

Determine which attributes you want in an ideal placement. Is it someone who has:
  • the right capabilities, qualifications, certifications, or associations?
  • demonstrated experience in a similar role?
  • a connection to the organisation?
  • the right attributes and approach?
  • a passion about the role and organisation?

You must also determine what the key aspects will be to ensure a successful placement that will lead to successful fundraising outcomes.

Be sure you don’t overlook soft and transferrable skills, even for professional and qualified fundraisers.

These skills are important for two reasons:

  1. Gauging whether a candidate will fit into your team and culture, which, in turn, will lead to enhanced team performance and productivity.
  2. Retention. If you hire a candidate with the right attributes, chances are high they will fit into the job better and consequently stay in the role longer.

How to Screen Talent to Identify the One With the Right “Fit”
Depending on your organisation and structure, your HR team may already carry out the pre-screening for you, sending only a curated selection of candidates to you for the interview process.

However, if your organisation does not have an HR team to support you, I highly recommend screening over the phone before investing time in a formal full interview.

Phone screening is effective, allowing you to ask basic questions and get a feel for the candidate and their experience to ensure the fit aligns, without wasting either party’s time and effort.

Six Key Questions to Ask Over the Phone
To learn about a candidate beyond their CV, ask open-ended questions.

Here are five open-ended (and one closed) questions useful during phone screening:

  1. Tell me a bit about yourself.
  2. Why are you interested in this role?
  3. What are you looking for in a new position?
  4. Describe the workplace culture you thrive in.
  5. How do your current skills and qualifications align with this this role?
  6. What is your salary expectation?

The Full Interview
Once you or your HR team are ready for full interviews with your chosen candidates, this is where you ask more questions to delve deeper.

In this more formal stage, asking behavioural interview questions is useful in evaluating candidate suitability. These will ascertain a candidate’s future performance based on past experience.

Begin questions with, “Tell me about a time,” “Describe a situation,” or, “Give me an example of a time.” These allow for candidates to shine and demonstrate their experience.

Six Behavioural Questions to Find “The One”
I ask the following:

  1. Can you take us through an example of a significant major gift you acquired? How was it identified? How did you research it? What was the process? What was your role and what was the result?
  2. In your current or previous role, can you share how fundraising income has grown under your leadership?
  3. Fundraising is not always smooth sailing. Can you tell us about a relationship that went off the rails? How did you win them back, continue the relationship, or end the partnership?
  4. Can you share how you develop and manage an ongoing donor pipeline?
  5. Describe a situation where you were able to strengthen a relationship by communicating effectively.
  6. Describe a situation where you were able to positively influence the actions of others in a desired direction

Hiring and retaining great fundraising talent is increasingly difficult and challenging in our fast-moving world. I hope my insights and tips are useful as you start the new year, renewed, and energised to find and secure fundraising gems who can help you achieve fundraising growth and thriving impact.