Build It and They Will Beat a Path to Your Door

With more than one third of the fundraising workforce turning over each year, the time and cost required to hire, train and supervise new staff takes a big bite out of your fundraising budget. Over 90% of the cost of hiring and bringing new staff up to speed is hidden, largely time diverted from more senior staff who have their own fundraising goals to reach. Premature staff turnover drains time and resources and makes the job of raising money in a tough economy that much more difficult.

If you manage staff, there are many things you can do to extend the tenure of productive employees and that is the core thesis of my new book, Donor-Centered Leadership, to be published later this year. But even the best bosses have to hire sometimes. While the hands-down best option for hiring is to promote from within, a close second is to cast your line and wait for the fish to come to you.

You already have the two things you need to generate a line-up of great candidates for your next available position – your leader and your website. You may simply need to showcase them differently so that they work better for you as hiring advantages.

Your organization’s reputation is grounded in your mission statement but it is brought to life by your people. A Chief Executive who credits his or her staff for your not-for-profit’s success is a magnet for top fundraisers who are looking for the best environment in which to raise money. So build your CEO’s profile inside the fundraising industry. Have him/her address your next fundraising conference, write a journal article on effective staff management, or participate in a forum on mentoring staff. Most important, make sure your CEO is highly visible on your website through a video that clearly shows visitors why they would be lucky to work under his/her leadership.

Your Website Is a Powerful Hiring Tool

Broadcasting your staffing needs only when you are actively seeking an employee is equivalent to speaking to donors only when you want their money. You can attract great fundraisers by having a steady conversation going on with them on your website about what it’s like to work in your shop. It costs little to build and every time it leads to a good hire, you save all the time and cost of a formal search.

Your CEO’s video in which s/he speaks enthusiastically about his/her staff should be the portal to your Career Landing Page, a virtual experience about what it’s like to work in your not-for-profit. Informative and enticing, your Career Landing Page should describe your work setting (physical) and work environment (atmospheric) through narrative and photos. For example, it might showcase your office space if you happen to have a particularly attractive, unusual or even funky setting. It could reference working conditions that make you stand out, such as your flex time work schedule, your onsite daycare, or that amazing roving food cart that dispenses health-conscious snacks. It could feature interesting facts about current staff that make visitors even more eager to work at your shop, like how an atypical work schedule was arranged for a staff member trying to qualify for the national sailing team. It could include quotes from employees about what it’s like to work for your organization (and for you), enhanced by action-oriented photos showing staff at retreats, doing community service, celebrating reaching your fundraising goal, and the like.

Whether or not there is a current opening in your Development Department, a vibrant and unique Career Landing Page will be your top hiring advantage. It will build a waiting list of excellent candidates for the future, putting you in a highly advantageous position whenever opportunities arise. It will also contribute to staff retention, reminding current employees why they wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.

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