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Why Nonprofits Should Hire Fundraisers Now – And How They Can

by Victoria Jones and Karen Lieberman-Daly

Posted June 4, 2020

Hire to optimize the fundraising opportunities that are emerging in this new reality.

As the pandemic wears on, many fundraisers are motivated to seek new positions for a number of reasons:

  • In some sectors, fundraising shops are considering significant restructuring either to better align staff with immediate opportunities like new donors or to redeploy or right-size in anticipation of COVID-19 and the economy’s impact on campaigns and special events. This leaves some very talented people looking for new growth opportunities or more stable environments or simply curious about what is out there.
  • This pandemic has had a real emotional impact on many great candidates, causing them to reflect and gravitate toward their passions and the causes they care about most.
  • Widespread furloughs and lay-offs are impacting fundraisers’ personal and professional decision-making. We are beginning to see geographic movement in the field driven by the relocation of a partner or spouse, and a desire to live in more open spaces outside of highly concentrated urban areas.


So, you’ve decided to recruit – now what?

Revisit the tactical tips we shared in a previous edition of our Friday Roundup series and draw on, as well, the advice shared in this article from the Harvard Business Review, “Now Is an Unprecedented Opportunity to Hire Great Talent”:

  • Check in with ‘top players’ who have been on your leadership’s hiring wish list for years. For any of the reasons mentioned above, these talented fundraisers may now be open to discussing joining your organization in a way they were not in the past. This is especially true for fundraisers currently working in nonprofit sectors experiencing a higher rate of layoffs and furloughs. You might also consider looking at candidates with strong for-profit sales backgrounds who may have transferable skills and a personal connection to your mission. Recruiting ‘top players’ has certainly been the grounding strategy for Development Guild searches and we expect it will be stronger than ever now.
  • Make a powerful and compelling case for candidates. It’s not just about pay (though important!) – candidates are most motivated when provided “a high level of autonomy, mastery, and purpose.” Communicate the benefits your new colleague will experience – from professional development opportunities to a chance to work with and learn from leaders who share their passion. And as it has been in recent years, providing a flexible work arrangement will be key. We are all talking right this minute about virtual work necessities; now it can be a much stronger opportunity.


Remember, you do not need to think in all-or-nothing terms.

You do not need to be either hiring or downsizing. Rather, now is the time to analyze the overall structure of your team and identify the most effective composition. As this Harvard Business School study about recession survival tactics suggests, organizations who continue to make strategic investments in recruitment will be better positioned when we enter a post-COVID-19 era.


All of us here at Development Guild recognize the critical role our friends and clients are playing in supporting the most vulnerable among us during this crisis. As we face these uncertain times together, it is our top priority to support you. Visit our COVID-19 Resources page for useful information and insights.