Like the ripples on a pool of deep water after he has been thrown in, the role of the charity finance director is expanding. For those looking at a career in the sector, it's an increasing challenge to gather the portfolio of skills required to do the job well.
With this in mind, I have constructed a template for all those charities recruiting a finance director.
Essential skills ... all of which are to be tested during a four-hour interview.
- Vision: a 20/20 strategic vision alongside an ability to alternate between next month and five years in the same sentence.
- Entrepreneurial skills: if you're applying from the commercial sector, welcome - your skills are a subset of those that will be required. Keep reading ...
- Attention to detail: the ability to read 200 words per minute, upside down, whenever you see a trustee with a fountain pen and a contract.
- Artistic flair: creativity is desirable, particularly when reporting to local authority funders requiring a 10-page submission for a grant worth £500.
Qualifications ... lots of these, all of which are vital. Exceptional management skills should include:
- Recruitment: an ability to recruit fabulous IT staff by offering them only enough budget to fund one MCSE and a complementary mousemat.
- Retention: with little opportunity for hierarchical promotion and a coffee machine that works every other Tuesday, an ability to develop and inspire a team whose work is both cyclical and repetitive.
- Political skills: I am not at liberty to divulge this information at present, but I can assure you that when the time is right I will give a full and fascinating explanation.
- Marketing skills: you will be given the task of getting the entire organisation excited about risk management, performance indicators, planning and budgeting, to the point at which each individual thinks about them routinely, and with enthusiasm, in all their decision making.
- An ability to herd monkeys.
- Level 6 juggling: six balls or more to be considered.
- Topiary skills: an ability to make money grow on trees (alchemy may be an acceptable alternative).
- Pigeon IT: oral and aural skills required, written skills desirable (you may be asked to demonstrate this skill at interview). Much of your time will be spent translating for non-speakers of the language.
You should arrive on your first day in swimwear, as you will be expected to leap immediately into some very deep water.
Standard regulation fire hose, thick skin, nose for corruption, at least 12 hats (including Sheriff and Superhero). You may be asked to take on other hats as and when required.