Following the Third Sector Jobs Careers Briefing at Fundraising Week, we caught up with our headline sponsor, TPP Recruitment, about how to demonstrate your value to employers. Emily Birch, Senior Consultant, tells us why you need to know your targets and how to communicate them at interview...
Q: Why is it important for fundraising candidates to demonstrate their value?
A: When interviewing candidates, the hiring manager will be assessing what each one can bring to the charity. They can’t bring someone new on board when they aren’t convinced they will add value to their team. In fundraising, they will be ultimately assessing how much money you can generate, and how much MORE money YOU can bring on board than the candidate who interviewed before you. If you can demonstrate adding value in prior roles, the interviewer will be able to envisage you also doing so in the role with their charity.
Q: How KPI driven is the charity sector?
A: This completely depends on the charity – just like in the commercial world, there are different cultures around targets, both financial and KPI, with some charities being very focused on them, and some not setting them at all. KPIs in charities are likely to be worked out carefully by calculating on average how many calls, meetings and pitches result in the partnerships needed to hit financial target.
KPIs should also be mentioned at interview. If you won a partnership – did you do this by making a number of calls, three meetings and culminating in a pitch? The KPIs that lead to income generation paint the picture of how proactive and involved you have been on your achievements. KPIs are also a fall-back if you are unsure of your income target, or only know your team target, or even if you didn’t manage to achieve your financial target.
Q: How can candidates show they’re focused on meeting their KPIs?
A: If you pepper your answers with various KPIs you were doing along the way to your achievements, you will show that you are bought into those types of targets and how they assist with income generation. Of course, meeting or exceeding your KPIs is the ideal way to show you’re KPI-driven.
Q: How should candidates discuss their individual and team targets in an interview?
A: It’s important that candidates know both their individual and team targets, so they can talk about their individual impact in relation to the team budgets. Candidates should demonstrate that they know exactly what portion of the team target is personally down to them, so the interviewer can envisage you having a similar impact on their team if they bring you on board. An example of explaining this is: ‘Our fundraising department brings in £1m each year. Of this, 50% is trusts, and there were two of us making trusts applications. I secured £300,000 of this.’ This shows that your impact was significant compared to the income of the trusts team and the fundraising department as a whole.
"If you can demonstrate that you know how your income has funded particular services, this will make for a very strong example to use in an interview."
Q: What outcomes should targets link to?
A: If you can demonstrate that you know how your income has funded particular services, this will make for a very strong example to use in an interview. Candidates who have worked on a proposal, partnership or project that has been restricted funding for a particular service should talk about this in an interview to show their understanding of the importance of the cause in fundraising. Unrestricted funding is trickier, but you may want to mention the increase in your income and the increase or addition of a particular service of roughly the same value, to show that whilst you can’t say for certain what your money funded, you can show a knowledge and awareness of how increased income will improve the service delivery.
Q: What if they don’t know their individual or team targets?
A: Start tracking now! There should be a way on your database to bring up the income generated from your partners, appeals or events. Your manager should be able to help you with this but if you really can’t find out the targets, or can’t remember them, you can use your KPIs and other targets as fall back, but your examples would be a lot stronger if you have financials to back them up.
Q: How can candidates compete with individuals transferring from the private sector?
A: Candidates from the charity sector can absolutely compare to those transferring from the private sector. However, commercial candidates will be business-minded, will have a great grasp on their figures, and will be used to demonstrating their worth, meaning that charity candidates will need to do all of these things too. The advantage is that you can link this to your experiences of charity activity, partnerships and services, whereas private sector candidates are talking about transferring their experience.
Q: How important is it to demonstrate evidence of strategic partnerships?
A: Very important. The larger charities, and those with niche, specific causes, are looking more and more at strategic partnerships rather than the traditional Charity of the Year or employee fundraising partnerships. At interview, use as many examples as possible of developing a partnership past the traditional means, to integrate the charity as far as possible with the partner. If you’ve got examples of doing this successfully, the interviewer will be thinking of the strategic impact you could have on their current partners.
Q: Do you have any other interview advice for fundraising candidates?
A: There’s lots of interview prep that should be done for each specific interview, and we would be happy to talk to candidates and answer specific questions on those. However, as another general point, remember to always use the best example. There is often concern from candidates around wanting to use an even spread of examples from each of their previous jobs, or wanting to use a variety of examples if they’ve been in a mixed or generalist role. Instead, your approach should be to take each question as it comes, select your BEST example, and talk through it in detail, using financials to back it up – even if you have used lots from the same job, or feel you’ve got experience you’re not talking about. Take your lead from the interviewer and answer each point as best you can, in a concise and specific way.
If you think you’ve got what it takes to work in fundraising, then take a look at the job descriptions and apply.
Emily Birch is Senior Consultant at TPP Recruitment. She has worked with charities for the last three years and, in that time, has built up both her knowledge of the sector and an excellent network of fundraising professionals.