How can we make fundraising a more attractive career?

How can we make fundraising a more attractive career?

Guest Bloggers | 13 September 2019

As this week sees the Institute of Fundraising release its first report in its Public Perceptions series, which looks at what the public think about fundraising, Matt Adams, Divisional Manager, Fundraising & Development at TPP Recruitment, explains what this infographic shows about public opinion of fundraising as a career.

The new series from the Institute of Fundraising provides some fascinating insight into the public perceptions of a career in fundraising. We regularly hear from senior leaders in the sector how the recruitment and retention of fundraising talent is one of the key issues they face day to day – so how does this research help us in making fundraising a more attractive career?

Promote fundraising as a career! The research shows us that fundraising already is an attractive career to those who know it is an option. Despite only a small percentage of respondents (7%) reporting that they had heard, read or seen anything about the fundraising profession in recent times, positivity is high compared to other well-known professions – particularly the case with younger respondents.

Interest is high too – 25% of respondents reported an interest in working in the sector (this rose to 38% of those who had completed voluntary fundraising activities). So perhaps the first learning point from this research is that there is more for the sector to collectively do to raise the profile of our work. It fits perfectly with respondents’ desire to work in a role that they are passionate about, where there is a good work/life balance, and where they are paid fairly. If as a sector this report gives us a shot in the arm to redouble our efforts to get out there and tell more people about why the fundraising profession is all of the above and more, it would be inevitable that the number of people interested in joining the sector will also grow.

Positive response to the need for fundraising

Despite all the media attacks (warranted or not) seen over the years on fundraising, it is heartening to see such a positive response to the need for, and act of fundraising. This points to an educated populace not blinded by the hype, although there is no distinction between domestic and international fundraising in the report. Further, almost 90% of respondents pointed to intelligent fundraising (building rapport and relationships) as being key to success which points to a clear understanding that untailored mass marketing and aggressive face-to-face fundraising are antiquated techniques.

The challenge of harnessing the reported interest in fundraising is key; creating more opportunities for those outside of the sector to secure a paid fundraising role is essential. It is still too common for us to hear from employers at the start of a recruitment process that they are open in terms of a candidate’s previous experience, to hear at the end of the process that only candidates with fundraising experience are shortlisted. We also have numerous examples where candidates have gone through two or more rounds of interviews, to find out that they have been beaten to the role by a candidate with prior experience (simply as they have prior experience with no regard to potential, to culture or values fit, or to diversity).

Looking beyond experience and focusing more on skills-based recruitment; either by upskilling those actually carrying out the interviews (e.g. competency based interviewing rather than an unstructured CV-based chat), or in many cases simply taking the time to confront any recruitment biases and recruiting with an open mind (how many times have you heard someone say that the last person we hired with no experience didn’t work out, so we want someone who has worked in the sector this time around?!) will allow us to capitalise on this level of interest, widen the talent pool and slowly start to release the pressures on hiring that are currently faced by too many.

Take a look at the new research looking at how the general public perceives fundraising, based on polling conducted by YouGov here.

Matt Adams is Divisional Manager, Fundraising & Development at TPP Recruitment. 

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