How to face the challenges of recruiting for individual giving and direct marketing roles

Third Sector Promotion NFP Consulting

Top tips to help you recruit top talent

Shivani Smith from NFP Consulting
Shivani Smith from NFP Consulting

Many charities struggle to recruit and keep talented individual giving and direct marketing professionals. Earlier this year, we decided to start a conversation with our clients about the challenges they were facing in this field. We received many emails from charities across the country describing their own experiences and how they were trying to find solutions.

What we heard from charities of all sizes, was that many organisations were finding the process time consuming and unproductive despite going to market several times.

This makes it expensive and resource heavy while existing team members devote their time to recruitment, and to possibly covering the requirements of the role they’re trying to fill.

Our consultation showed us that the problem was not new, nor contained within the field of IG. But there was a sense that the problem of finding the right people for fundraising roles was becoming more acute. Exacerbated of course by the current environment of budgetary constraints as well as increased scrutiny and criticism of fundraising.

So, why are charities finding it difficult to attract the right IG and DM professionals?

Employer branding is key

Employer branding came up as one possible hurdle. Clients talked about challenges recruiting to the sector, the field and also to their own individual causes.

Organisations need to ensure that they’re doing everything they can to make their offer compelling. It is true of any recruitment process but especially when the pool of potential candidates is small and in demand.

Offer a competitive salary and lifestyle package

Salaries need to be benchmarked and competitive, but so too do other components of the job offer. Many employers sometimes focus too much of the job on offer and not enough on the life and lifestyle that goes with it.

Look for talent outside of the sector

One approach was the classic ‘think outside the box’ solution. Reviewing the ‘essential’ characteristics and required experience means that charities can think more broadly about the skills they need, and where those skills can be found.

These could be within the organisation or outside the sector. The focus would then be about really thinking about what was needed rather than relying on past role descriptions. Some charities chose to review the role itself and combine it with other remits. This sometimes made the job more attractive to candidates but also more relevant for the organisation.

Nurture and develop your existing talent

Another route charities have taken is to nurture and develop their own talent. Instead of trying to look externally for the right person, some teams have chosen to develop the skills in house.

This is a long term approach that focuses on development and retention rather than attracting people in. It has the dual benefit of highlighting a culture that values the growth of its people as well as filling the skills gap.

Work harder and smarter to attract and retain the best talent

Finding the right person for a role, for a team, is an essential part of a charity’s success. It’s never been more important than now as charities find themselves under immense pressure. This year has brought several high profile stories relating to fundraising.

The brain drain already cited by our clients could be coupled with fewer people coming into fundraising. Charities, therefore, have to work harder and smarter than ever to attract and retain the best people. And they can only do this by thinking laterally about what they need and what they offer.

For the full report with details of all the contributions to the consultation, please contact Victoria Stickler ( quoting ‘TS.’ 

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