Bali Kang, managing director of third sector recruitment specialist Third Solutions, tells us about the never-ending skills shortage and how charities can build resilient fundraising teams equipped to deal with today’s challenges.
Finding the right fundraising professionals for your team is becoming an increasingly critical issue for charities of all sizes. Hiring first-class candidates for fundraising roles is crucial in today’s world because there is an extremely high climate of scrutiny in fundraising, particularly over how donors’ money is being spent. Charities therefore need to make sure they build resilient fundraising teams that are well equipped to deal with these challenges. In order to attract and retain candidates, charities need to be forward-thinking in their approach and think outside the box.
In recent years we have witnessed a change in the fundraising jobs market. Candidates are increasingly demanding - they are now very much in the driving seat and expect more from employers. We have had to adapt our model accordingly and are now working to a more headhunting style of recruitment for all levels of roles within fundraising. As recruiters, we have to proactively reach out to more passive candidates rather than wait for candidates to come to us or rely on traditional advertising.
There is still such a drain on skills in the sector that everyone needs to work harder and smarter to keep the best people in fundraising or to attract new people to join the sector.
Here are some practical steps charities can take to attract and retain fundraising candidates and build a resilient fundraising team:
- Review your employee remuneration package: A good place to start is to benchmark the salary you are offering against the market rate. Are you on par or do you need to offer more to give your charity a competitive edge to secure the best talent? In addition, make sure you are offering a range of benefits to bolster the remuneration package and make a point of communicating these benefits when recruiting - these can be anything from generous holiday entitlements and private health cover to an attractive training and development budget.
- Create a better work-life balance culture: A happy culture that strikes a good work-life balance can help you attract and retain valuable skills. Candidates increasingly seek and expect flexible working so consider offering alternative options such as working from home or condensed hours over three or four days per week. There are many different ways to integrate flexible working and you need to consider how you can make it work for your organisation and employees so that you result in happier and more productive people.
- Look for talent outside the third sector: Whilst recruiting from within the sector can seem safest, the commercial sector has to be considered as an option. The hiring team needs to think outside the box and see what talent is out there rather than being too restricted by the job specification. Really look at what a candidate could offer you even if they do not have the sector experience.
- Develop existing talent: Look within the organisation and guide and develop your own talent so you can retain them. This will allow you to shine as a far more attractive organisation to work for, enabling you to retain your best staff.
- Adopt flexible processes: You need to help candidates progress more quickly than many processes allow. Try to adopt a more flexible approach to make it easier for this to happen. Consider whether your application process is helping to attract candidates or whether it is putting them off due to time constraints.
- Communicate fully with your recruiters: Recruitment should be a two-way process, so it’s important that recruiters can speak to managers in the team to get a clear picture of the type of person and skills they are looking for, rather than simply working from a job description.
By taking these steps you can begin to tackle the ‘brain drain’ in fundraising and build a resilient talent pipeline. The key to success will be adopting creative and flexible approaches that open up new routes to finding the talent you need.
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