Nnontraditional candidates often think their experience and skills are obvious, and as a result, fail to adequately explain how their professional experience makes them qualified to raise money. “A lot of people say, ‘I did sales, so I can do this,’ but you have to connect the dots” more explicitly for organizations hiring fundraisers, Michael Vann, Vice President for Search Management says. “They want their own language repeated back to them,” he says. They want to hear about specific responsibilities a would-be fundraiser held in previous jobs and how that will make the candidate successful in building relationships and securing gifts.
“Unwillingness on the part of the fundraising profession to pay attention to transferable skills has not only diminished the pipeline of talent, but also diminished success in objectives for the profession to become more diverse,” says Ron Schiller of Aspen Leadership Group. “We’re missing out on plenty of people with strong skills and relevant passion who could put those skills to work for something that matters deeply to them.”
ALG’s Search Team interacts with hundreds of advancement professionals each week. Today, these interactions are increasingly focused on navigating careers during an uncertain time. While candidates are concerned about their own positions or about an interrupted career trajectory, they also are developing new skills, deepening relationships with donors, and working in ways that they never imagined. Here is what we are hearing from candidates and recommendations we are sharing with them.
Featured on Alexander Haas: Tips for Advancing Your Career in Philanthropy – Interview with Ron Schillerby
Ron Schiller shares with Alexander Haas’s podcast how the transferable skills from his background in the arts set him up for success in fundraising – and how you can direct your career in fundraising to achieve your goals.
Many “non-traditional” candidates from outside the nonprofit sector don’t get a chance to interview because the supposed risk in taking someone with only “related” experience is deemed too high. Here are some of those risks and perceived risks, together with suggestions on how to address or overcome them.