In today’s employment market, most job hunters are looking for employers with a healthy corporate culture and spirit of give and take. This is especially true for high-quality fundraisers in in Australia – a true candidate’s market.

In the last decade, the tertiary sector and large NFPs have ramped up their fundraising and head count substantially. There are simply more jobs than qualified candidates. And these competitors can offer fundraisers higher salaries, better support, and more fringe benefits than most of us in the arts.

If you are looking to hire a motivated and effective fundraiser, the lure of having prestigious arts brand (with its trimmings) is no longer enough.

Over the past few years, we’ve worked with many organisations struggling to fill development roles often for months on end.

Some fundamental things are going wrong. That’s why we’ve put together this list of four things you need to get right if you’re serious about hiring a rain-maker in the arts.

1. Lead with your Employee Value Proposition (EVP)

Hiring an effective fundraiser starts from the moment you advertise. That means your job ad needs to be more than just a call for CVs.

You need to market your EVP, or what your company offers its staff in return for their long hours and contribution to the business. We know that building strong relationships and exceeding fundraising targets is what’s in it for you. But what’s in it for them?

If you haven’t got an EVP, it’s time to put your executive team to work and create one.  It is worth knowing that a Corporate Leadership Council study showed the best EVPs reduced the compensation premium needed to hire by 50% and increased new staff engagement by 29%.

That makes a material difference to your bottom line.

2. Surveillance doesn’t sell

The point of going through the recruitment process is to start a conversation with talented, exciting and qualified candidates.

You won’t attract good candidates by leading with talk of expectations, key performance indicators (KPIs), probation periods or contract terms. So don’t put this information in your job ads. There’s plenty of time for that later – once there’s mutual attraction and rapport.

3. Pick the skill set you really need

There are many types of fundraisers with very different strengths.

A relationship fundraiser who is a natural with major gift donors has a very different profile to a grant specialist or direct response fundraiser. To avoid disappointment in the future, be specific about the skill set you need most. And make sure these skills are maximized in the role.

If you’re tiny – you need to consider outsourcing process-driven activities like grant and acquittal writing and direct response appeals.

4. Get real about salary

Thanks to the laws of supply and demand high-quality fundraisers are expensive. Occasionally, star fundraisers can be the highest paid person in the whole organisation. To remain competitive in this market, arts companies have three options:

i)  Shift your mindset

Stop thinking about fundraising salary as overhead and build the salary increment into the role’s revenue target. You can limit risk in this situation by regularly (and collaboratively) reviewing progress throughout the probation period and beyond.

ii)  Have a knock-out EVP.

If, for whatever reason, you can’t offer a competitive salary, your EVP will be critical.  But we know from the Corporate Leadership Council study that a compelling EVP can reduce your salary premium by up to 50% – so having one is best practice anyway

iii)  Hire for potential.

Alternatively, consider hiring a candidate who’s not yet at the level you’d ideally want but who has the potential to get there. Then be sure to invest in training and mentoring.

And finally…

Recruiting a good arts fundraiser in today’s employment market is tough: especially if your organisation is operating on a shoe-string. But by emphasising your EVP, being clear about what you want, you can reach deeper into the labour market and find the right person to take you forward.

And if you are still struggling to find the right person, we can help.  Contact us to find out more.

Some great reading on Employee Value Propositions by NFP People:

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