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Recruiting Fundraisers: Bridging the Human Resources Gap

June 21, 2017

Bill Weber

Read our President Bill Weber's recent article breaking down the barriers between fundraisers and the HR professionals who recruit them. With experience gained during more than 2,500 successful client engagements, Development Guild DDI is a recognized leader in providing executive search services for nonprofit organizations.

Unfortunately, HR professionals and fundraisers are not sure what to expect from each other, thereby limiting their ability to successfully partner. Here’s a scenario that I often hear about:

A Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) director at a nonprofit hospital is asked by the Chief Development Officer (CDO) to recruit two front line fundraisers with 7-15 years’ experience for new positions. The HR professional knows how to create all kinds of systems, from benefits to job classification, but doesn’t know much about fundraisers or fundraising so is depending upon the CDO to assess fundraiser’s skills and experience. While the HR officer often screens inbound applications, she is not prepared to reach out and recruit candidates and would depend on postings and third-party vendors to generate resumes. Moreover, her hiring process, which works well for most open positions, is too slow and inflexible to catch experienced fundraisers who are interviewing elsewhere. She senses there is a lot of competition for “good fundraisers” and is fearful about disappointing the CDO.

Intense competition for a limited pool, complex decision making, and slow hiring processes make this scenario all too familiar to most HR professionals hiring experienced fundraisers, regardless of the size or type of nonprofit. Many of these concerns are found in for-profit recruitment, too (“Slow Motion Hiring.” HR Magazine, June 2016, pp. 84-89).

And from the candidates’ perspective, HR can often be a barrier to connecting with the hiring manager. While HR is concerned with organizational issues such as salary equity, diversity policies, and staff morale, candidates will focus on their own needs, including the best offer for them.

No wonder there is an ongoing tension between HR directors hiring fundraisers and the candidates who want to be hired!

Advice for HR professionals:

Bill Weber

Bill Weber is President of Development Guild DDI. Read his bio here.

Clarifying the criteria:
There are some tricky issues to take into account when you and the hiring manager come to agreement concerning the “must have” versus “preferred” qualifications. Unlike some other professions, fundraising certificates and degrees are not good predictors of success, nor are there any widely used and helpful personality tests.

Also, fundraisers can be delightfully creative in their conversations, so I really stay away from hypothetical questions and simulated “work assignments.” Instead, I strongly prefer behavioral interviewing so that candidates provide you with relevant examples of what they have done (as related to the “must have” and “preferred” qualifications). As a result, you will be indirectly giving the hiring manager the granular information they need to assess the candidates’ relevant skills and experience.

Creating the fundraiser candidate pool:
If you rely on ads, even in targeted local professional outlets, your qualified pool is likely to be relatively weak. Your competitors are already encouraging their fundraising staff to “network even when they don’t have to,” so there’s no time like the present to begin. Employee referral bonuses are becoming more popular and effective as are referrals from volunteers and board members. As with all other outreach, aggressive use of LinkedIn in-mails can be a game changer. And when it’s a major hire, consider the use of a search firm that is set up to find the best talent, who are often not actively looking, and to ensure a fair and credible process.

Move fast:
There’s a lot of competition for the best fundraisers, so administrative application processes that may be effective for other jobs may be too slow. Don’t expect to have a deep pool of candidates trotting along at the same stage during the interview process. Instead, manage the hiring manager’s expectations so they can get the input they need and can make decisions with an accurate picture of the pool. But while you move fast, don’t skip key steps—from referencing to interviews.

Welcome negotiations:
Prepare to negotiate. If fundraisers are any good at their job, they can articulate what it will take for them to be successful and to engage with others to make that happen. This means you will need an informed, trusted relationship with the hiring manager to know where you can concede, offer and adapt. Don’t be surprised if your first salary offer is rejected. Expect questions about work-life balance, performance bonuses, titles, and where they fit in the organization chart. Finally, candidates may save their most important questions for the hiring manager and not you.

Advice for Fundraisers:

Working with HR is not the same every time.

HR professionals may have many different roles. In large institutions, HR generally relies on benefit and job classification specialists and will mandate that HR makes the offer, not the hiring manager. In addition, talent managers are increasingly hired in development shops in recognition that fundraising recruitment requires a special approach. In smaller nonprofits, the HR professional may be responsible for everything from facilities oversight to financial operations. And in both large and small shops, HR may have a key role in retention and liasing with search firms. As a result, expect good faith while testing your assumptions each step of the way.

Follow the volunteer chain of command. If, as a fundraiser, you expect to work closely with volunteers and board members, then it is reasonable to ask if you will meet some during the interview process. Realize that HR professionals rarely involve volunteers in the hiring process, so you may get initial resistance. Usually, the hiring manager and HR professional can find a way to orchestrate volunteer involvement. This usually happens in the finalist round, with everyone acknowledging that the staff are making the hiring decision.

But never lobby volunteers to get hired! The reason is simple: fundraisers need to be trusted, and if you go around the staff chain of command in the hiring process, that suggests you may not follow the chain of comment if hired. Fundraisers may be the only staff with access to their bosses on the board. But there is still an opportunity to take advantage of this relationship. If you do contact volunteers early on, that demonstrates good research and relationship building—simply let HR know whom you talked to and when.

Make it easy. Remember, HR professionals are swamped with too much work and need to rely on the hiring manager to dig deep about relevant skills and experience. As a result, HR may revert to the standard hiring procedures which they know best. Consequently, all the job seeking advice you heard elsewhere applies doubly here: write a well-crafted cover letter; arrive on time for the interview; dress appropriately; rehearse good eye contact, etc. And most importantly, don’t surprise HR with last minute disclosure of information or introduce requests that could have been made earlier. Under pressure, HR may use any of these demerits to not advance you to the hiring manager.

A Final Comment:

Despite their role conflict, I truly believe that HR professional and fundraisers share a lot in common.

Sometimes I have mused that an experienced fundraiser I have met could have been a great HR professional if they had pursued that field earlier in their career. And I had the same thought for HR professionals becoming fundraisers. After all, they both need great relationships skills, can navigate complex environments and systems, and are mission driven. But tension between their roles grows by the time they have advanced in their careers – so try to relax, folks! You’re natural partners in the process!

Bill Weber is President of Development Guild DDI, a fundraising and executive search consulting firm that has placed hundreds of fundraisers and nonprofit leaders.  Development Guild DDI has been named to Forbes inaugural “America’s Best Executive Search Firms 2017”.

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Our Higher Ed Clients Feature an Inspiring Group of Commencement Speakers

June 16, 2017

We’re proud to be partnered with visionary leaders and institutions. We’ve compiled a list of commencement speeches from some of our clients which demonstrate their commitment to our young people and a brighter future. Click below for links to videos of their commencement speeches.

We’re proud to be partnered with visionary leaders and institutions.  We’ve compiled a list of commencement speeches from some of our clients which demonstrate their commitment to our young people and a brighter future.  Click below to watch videos of selected speeches.

Barnard College, Dr. Joanne Liu


Bennington College, Cornell William Brooks


Regis College, Dr. Knatokie Ford


Simmons College, Gina McCarthy


UMass Amherst, Elizabeth Warren

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Development Guild DDI Named to Forbes “America’s Best Executive Search Firms 2017” List

June 5, 2017

Development Guild DDI has been named to Forbes inaugural “America’s Best Executive Search Firms 2017”. The ranking is based on the results from a rigorous independent peer review survey of more than 4,000 executive recruiters, candidates who have worked with recruiters, and human resource managers. Forbes worked with the analytics firm Statista to compile the rankings from the over 20,000 recommendations collected.

“We are very pleased to be ranked in the top 100 firms selected” said Development Guild DDI President Bill Weber. “Our team is proud of the 450 searches we have conducted on behalf of a diverse range of nonprofit organizations. Each day we are reminded of the extraordinary contributions our clients make to our communities, across our country, and around the world.”

About Development Guild DDI

Since 1978, Development Guild DDI have been aligning leadership around a strategic vision with  planning, executive search, and fundraising services. With offices in Boston and New York and working with clients nationwide, we partner with leaders in academic medicine, higher education, arts and culture, human service, and other nonprofits in delivering on their most important goals.

Learn more at www.developmentguild.com

Contact:
Susan Bragg Meurer
Senior Vice President
800.537.9011 extension 225
sbragg@developmentguild.com

Bill Weber provides advice in a recent Chronicle of Philanthropy article

May 5, 2017

Timothy Sandoval recently published an article titled “Advice for Aspiring Major-Gifts Fundraisers” in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, and the piece focuses on the characteristics of successful major gift professionals. Introducing the career path as one with unusual emphasis on relationship building and versatility, Sandoval breaks down advice from contributing experts into 5 steps for professionals interested in pursuing a major gifts track.

He begins by stressing the importance of honestly evaluating your suitability for an overwhelmingly interpersonal role. The article moves on to explain the value of finding effective mentorship in the field and identifying opportunities to take initiative while maintaining sensitivity and deference for coworkers’ relationships and portfolios. Sandoval wraps up the piece pointing out the learnability of many traits that make major gifts officers successful, such as listening skills and humility. Closing with a quote from Bill Weber, Sandoval reinforces the importance of qualifying not only your suitability for the career track, but your prospective organization’s health and purpose – “If you don’t connect to the mission, why do it?”

Read the article on the Chronicle of Philanthropy website with subscription.

Ioannis Miaoulis Awarded 2016 AAAS Abelson Prize

April 25, 2017

Ioannis Miaoulis

The Abelson Prize, established in 1985 by the AAAS Board of Directors, recognizes individuals who have “made signal contributions to the advancement of science in the United States.”

Read more about his achievement here: www.mos.org

WID Fireside Chat Features Catherine D’Amato 6/6/17

April 25, 2017

Women in Development’s Annual Meeting and Spring Program presents Fundraising During Uncertain Times, a fireside chat featuring former Development Guild DDI client Catherine D’Amato, President and CEO, Greater Boston Food Bank, Tuesday June 6, 2017.

The chat will focus on how nonprofits can remain relevant in times of great social and political change.

Find out more about this event here: widgb.org/events

St. Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation Welcomes Malcolm E. Berry

March 9, 2017

A message from our President, Bill Weber:


Greetings!

We are pleased to announce the placement of Malcolm E. Berry in the role of Chief Development Officer at St. Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation. As Chief Development Officer, Malcolm will work closely with President Joan Magruder, Hospital, Vice Presidents, clinical leaders at Washington University School of Medicine (WUMC) and Foundation Board of Trustees to identify fundraising needs and philanthropic priorities for the hospital and pediatric departments throughout WUSM. Malcolm joins the Foundation from the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, where he served as the Foundation’s Vice President, Major Gifts. To learn more about Malcolm and St. Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation please visit the official announcement page.

Malcolm Berry

CHIEF DEVELOPMENT OFFICER

We are grateful for having had the opportunity to partner with St. Louis Children’s Hospital on this search and want to thank our network of friends and colleagues who helped.

For regular updates from Development Guild DDI, follow us on Linkedin and Twitter.

All best wishes as we look forward to spring,
Bill

William M. Weber, Ed.D

President

Partners in Health Documentary “Bending the Arc” Released at This Year’s Sundance Film Festival

March 8, 2017

The documentary unveils the organization’s extraordinary contributions to the global health movement.

Congratulations to our client Partners in Health!

The documentary unveils the organization’s extraordinary contributions to the global health movement told through the experiences of PIH leaders Dr. Paul Farmer, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, Ophelia Dahl, Dr. Joia Mukherjee, and others was one of the documentaries celebrated at this year’s Sundance film festival.

Partners in Health Bending the Arc Documentary

Watch the trailer here: pih.org/pages/bending-the-arc

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Bill Weber and Victoria Jones to present at Fundraising Day in New York on June 23

March 7, 2017

Register now at http://www.nycafp.org/events/fund-raising-day-new-york.

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2017 CASE D1 Conference – Key Decision Makers Program

January 12, 2017

Development Guild DDI is proud to once again be the Diamond Level Key Decision Maker Program Sponsor at the 2017 CASE District 1 Conference, taking place January 25-27. Key Decision Makers (KDM) is an annual program presented to exclusively c-level development leaders.  This year’s program features two thought leaders, Jen Shirkani and Megan Burns. Both Jen and Megan bring unique and important outside perspectives to the table.

About the Presenters

jen_shirkaniJen Shirkani is a nationally recognized expert on emotional intelligence and a featured speaker at national conferences, educational institutions, and at business organizations around the world. She is the author of Ego vs EQ, nominated for a 2014 USA Best Book Award.


megan_burns

Megan Burns is a well-known expert in customer experience, human behavior, and culture change. As Vice President, Principal Analyst at Forrester, Megan built a rich body of research on customer experience, leading CX transformation, executive engagement, empathy, and the role of emotion in experiences. Past clients include more than twenty firms in the Fortune 50.

To learn more about the CASE District I Annual Conference visit the conference website.

If you’re planning to attend the CASE D1 Conference, please let us know. We would welcome the opportunity to connect! Email us at info@developmentguild.com and we’ll direct your message to the right person.

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