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Recruiting your first fundraiser: how to attract the best!

Posted on 4/05/2017 by Matt Adams


TPP recently hosted the Small Charities Coalition First Friday ‘advice clinic’ session on how to recruit your first or sole fundraiser. We were joined by 12 small charities and we collectively covered tips and strategies for small nonprofits looking to hire their first fundraiser.

TPP has specialised in recruitment for the not for profit sector for over 20 years and we appreciate that recruiting a charity’s first fundraiser, or sole fundraiser, can be a challenge for a multitude of reasons.  Typically there are several barriers to recruitment that small charities face : Do you really have the budget? Are you certain about this requirement or unsure of what you’re looking for? Have you tried to recruit previously and found it challenging, time consuming and unsuccessful? 

Initially, you need to consider what you’re actually looking for in your sole/ first fundraiser. What are your expectations and are they realistic? What type of person would suit your organisation? How experienced do they need to be? Can you consider a more senior candidate with more experience, but on an interim/part time basis? These are questions you need to contemplate when creating your job description and person specification. Speaking to your peers and other charities to compare your role with is an ideal place to start.

You need to consider your hiring strategy and ensure you have a plan, but also that you can be flexible! You need to think about how you’re going to advertise and the tools at your disposal, eg, using social media, promotion through your own networks, using a recruiter, etc. And remember that self-promotion is really important; getting your volunteers and supporters on board can be really effective.

In terms of actually writing your advert, it’s easy to get this wrong and there are plenty of bad examples out there. It’s all about language – use the same dialect and tone that you use to appoint your supporters and donors. It’s highly effective, it’s compelling, and ultimately will engage more candidates over a bland advert. Also consider your application process, making it as easy for the candidate where possible by bypassing lengthy application forms at this stage.

When reviewing your applications and candidates at interview, be aware of potential bias and avoid this by not relying on gut feeling/instinct. Involve other relevant colleagues in the process and have pre-prepared competency and emotional intelligence based questions. Be sure to include questions that are reflective of the job description and person specification and don’t hesitate to include a couple of curveball questions. You can devise your own scoring matrix to help when it comes to the decision-making part of the process.

Once you have identified the candidate you would like to appoint, make sure you have considered the joining, or onboarding process. Are the relevant people going to be there when the new hire starts? Have you got all necessary resources in place? Simple things like this make a difference and considering the efforts you’ll have put in to source and secure the candidate, you’ll want to avoid potential hiccups at this stage.

Retaining your fundraiser isn’t easy; fundraisers can move around rather quickly for a number of reasons. However, ensuring that expectations are managed and the candidate is supported should be your focus and any opportunity for professional development should be explored.

To conclude, it is difficult to recruit fundraisers. But remember your selling points as a small charity – you can offer an autonomous working environment; might be able to offer more flexible working; will probably be closer the cause and your beneficiaries, and fundamentally, the value they can add truly will be make a big impact to your charity.

Jobs in fundraising require enthusiastic, target & results-driven employees with a sincere passion and commitment towards the cause they represent. The skill set required for fundraising jobs varies depending on the specific fundraising stream; generally, the charities we at TPP represent require previous similar experience. If you need further assistance or guidance recruiting your first fundraiser, please contact us today on 020 7198 6040 or email us on