There is something going wrong with fundraiser recruitment in the charity sector. I've heard from peers that they can't fill roles, seen the same roles put out to advert over and over again, deadlines extended more than once, candidates pulling out from recruitment processes...what is going on?
If this is you, you're not alone...
CharityJob also told Civil Society UK in August 2022 'We’re seeing record numbers of jobs posted on our site – in July this year we had 42% more than the average in 2019 and this combined with the UK labour shortage means that competition for the top talent is strong'
There has been talk of a 'recruitment crisis' in the charity sector since 2020. There are more roles than candidates, charities are struggling to prevent staff burn out, retain staff and offer decent pay. The non profit starvation cycle (which requires a whole blog series itself...), where charities are forced to spend as little as possible on 'overhead' costs like staff or staff development, mean charities typically don't have great budgets for recruitment, renumeration packages and staff development.
What can charities do to attract fundraising talent?
It's undoubtedly a tough recruitment market for in-house fundraisers, but there are some things you can do to improve your chances of finding great applicants for your role.
Show The Salary on all your adverts and consider scrapping a salary range in favour of committing to the maximum you know you can afford for the role. (Thanks Kirsty Erridge, CEO at Raising Futures Kenya, for this great piece of advice). Check out the Show The Salary website for the excellent rationale behind putting the salary front and centre of your vacancies, as well as other things you can do to increase your chances of attracting a diverse range of candidates.
Commit to making NonGradsWelcome. Does your fundraiser need a degree to be able to raise money for your organisation? NonGradsWelcome think not: 'By making it a requirement for applicants to have an unspecified degree organisations are slamming the door in the faces of talented fundraisers simply because – for whatever reason – they didn’t go to university.' Make it clear in your job adverts and person specifications that you welcome applicants who don't have degrees - you want proof they can raise money effectively, this aptitude and experience is unlikely to have come from a degree qualification.
Be Flexible First. Flexible First is a campaign who 'believe the charity sector should be flexible first. Here to challenge bad recruitment and celebrate good practice'. They advocate for genuine flexible working, remote working, accessible and reasonable recruitment processes and more.
Pay well, as well as you can. Budgets seem to be tighter than ever, and we all know how hard it is to generate unrestricted income for core costs. But do you know who shouldn't suffer because of this? The people who care about what you do enough to want to work for you. Offering low salaries prevents a the majority of people from taking the job - you will exclude anyone who needs a decent wage to live. Research shows that 'nonprofits that spend more on information technology, facilities, equipment, staff training, program development and fundraising tend to be more successful than those that scrimp on these overhead expenses.
If you need some motivation to invest that cash in 'overhead', watch Dan Palotta's great TED Talk on this topic.
Prioritise wellbeing in your organisational culture. What have you done to put staff wellbeing first at your charity? Do you offer mental health days, do you have a staff wellbeing policy, are your Board and senior leadership leading by example to prevent burn out? If you're doing these things it would be great to highlight this when you're recruiting. If you think there is room for improvement, start the conversation with your team.
Offer a chat beforehand to allow candidates to ask questions about the organisation or role.
Make the application process as painless and accessible as possible. A few great examples I've seen recently include sending interview questions in advance to put candidates at ease, not including unpaid work like tasks or presentations as part of the recruitment process (or at least not in the first stages), calling people who were not successful at interview to offer feedback.
If you're really struggling to recruit internally, freelance fundraisers could help
If you're really struggling with recruitment and need more capacity urgently, freelance fundraising support could be a good option.
Short term commitment- you can increase or decrease hours to ebb and flow with your needs and budget.
Flexibility to work with different people with different areas of expertise in fundraising. Start with an expert in trust fundraising to strengthen your case for support and funder pipeline, then work with a corporate fundraising pro to set your action plan for generating income through corporates, finish with an individual giving whizz to get your donor acquisition and donor journey ship shape.
Fundraising generalists can support across a range of different kinds of fundraising and keep that income coming in whilst you focus on recruiting your perfect in-house fundraiser.
At Fair Development we have over 50 amazing freelancers working to support small charities with affordable and appropriate consultancy and training. Day rates start at £250 for the smallest charities, all day rates are up front on the website and every member of The Collective charges the same rate.
If you'd like to explore how this might work for your charity, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org