19 Oct In an Ideal World, Hire Staff in the Fall
19 October 2021
By David Allen, Development for Conservation
In an ideal world, an organization would hire development staff in the Fall – in October or November. This is true regardless of whether the staff person was a new member of an existing team or whether it was the first person hired in fundraising.
In an ideal world, the organization would have at least one year and preferably two years of funding for this person already in the bank. In an ideal world, this money would not be touched by the new person, but having it would be an important safety net. Because in an ideal world, bad fits would not last long.
In an ideal world, commitment to mission – passion – would be the first search criteria. Candidates would not be hired based on skill-set and experience alone, trusting that mission interest can be incubated. They would be hired because they are at least interested in the mission, perhaps even trusting that skills and experience can be incubated (assuming they have raw talent).
In an ideal world, the new staff person would have a very clear job description and role to play (See Three Different Jobs for Development Staff).
- If they were hired in the role of Mechanic (Development Assistant or Development Manager), their first few months might be filled by getting their arms around the database systems used, and they would hit the ground running by sharing some of the check processing load.
- If they were hired as a Strategist or Star (Development Manager or Development Director), their first few months might be filled by getting their arms around goals and plans and budgets, and they would hit the ground running by building relationships with each of the Board members and program directors over lunch or coffee.
- If they were hired as a Star (Donor Relations Manager or Major Gift Officer), their first few months might be filled by getting their arms around the donor base, and they would hit the ground running by making calls to say thank you and asking Board members to facilitate introductions.
In an ideal world, new staff would also prioritize visiting the project areas in person, both those that are well-established and those still very much in the wings. They would study the strategic plan, the fundraising goals, and the projects needing funding. They would practice telling the organizational stories in first person.
In an ideal world, a new staff person would have no specific fundraising expectation that first year, from when they were hired to New Year’s Day. In the first full calendar year, they might be responsible for raising an amount equal to what the organization would have raised anyway PLUS what it costs the organization to have them on staff. After that, it depends very much on the position. Strategists might be responsible for raising several times their salary within three-five years. Stars more like 5-10 times within five years.
In an ideal world, the organization would clearly understand these roles before drafting a job description and posting the position. Strategist/Stars would not be hired and then asked to do data entry. Mechanics would not be asked to represent the organization as front-line fundraisers. Development staff would be hired to facilitate, augment, and amplify current fundraising activities, rather than replace them.
In an ideal world, an organization would hire development staff in the Fall.
In an ideal world …
Cheers, and Have a great week!
PS: Your comments on these posts are welcomed and warmly requested. If you have not posted a comment before, or if you are using a new email address, please know that there may be a delay in seeing your posted comment. That’s my SPAM defense at work. I approve all comments as soon as I am able during the day.
Photo by TG courtesy of Stocksnap.io.