Which Comes First? The Fundraiser or the Plan?

Fundraisers don't walk on water.

No plan. No fundraiser.

I won’t make you wait for the answer to this one: It’s the plan my friend.

Need Convincing?

Don’t doom yourself to fundraising mediocrity by taking the easy way out. I see it all the time – an organization finally gets the money together to hire a fundraiser, they post the position (“Must walk on water. Jesus encouraged to apply…”), offer the lowest possible salary, hire an inexperienced fundraiser, then leave the whole job to that person and turn their attention to other things. Ack!

It may be a much-hoped-for relief to find someone to dump all the fundraising on, but you’ll be setting them up to fail. Instead, make a minor initial investment in some planning like so…

How to Do It

Step 1:

Hire a seasoned fundraiser (consultant) with planning experience to analyze both your fundraising history and potential and come up with a plan of attack. They should work with you to create a two-year action plan with a timeline. It should include the different types of fundraising you will do, the campaigns or initiatives within each type, the steps needed to execute each, timing, and a stab at some financial and activity goals.

Don’t skimp! Find someone who’s experienced with NGOs of your size and type and get testimonials. You may even luck out and find someone to do it pro bono.

Step 2:

Now that you have a detailed plan, you can customize your hiring process to find the right person to execute it. Do your research on Charity Village to find existing job descriptions to borrow from for your position and look at the salary ranges being offered. If you have the money, consider getting a recruiter to help you out.

Step 3: 

Once you start the interview process, make sure to do some serious snooping! Check your applicants out on social media and ask around your circle discreetly to see if anyone knows them. And when checking references, make sure to ask for one from someone who reported to the applicant. It can be very illuminating to hear how someone treats subordinates versus their boss.

Step 4:

Schedule proper orientation for the new person – sharing it out with other staff where possible – to quickly integrate them into the team. Introduce them to the board. Give them some pens and a working computer. Meet with them regularly to review the plan and offer support. Set up professional development and mentoring opportunities. Get ready for the good times!

–          Siobhan

PS. Thanks for following my blog! What? You aren’t?! Please head back to the top of the page and type in your email. And let me know if you have a pet topic that needs some attention.


About Siobhan Aspinall

About Siobhan Aspinall: I am a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), passionate about the environment, social causes and surfing. I have been fundraising in Vancouver, Canada for over 20 years and love working with people who have a fear of fundraising. Call me for help developing a first-time fundraising plan, starting up a major gifts program, writing a case for support, or anything else that's keeping you awake at night! Please find me on linkedin and tell me what you'd like to see in future posts! : ) Photo Credit (sanddollar header): Minette Layne via Compfight cc
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