INSTITUTE OF FUNDRAISING: Training holds the key to retaining your best staff

LINDSAY BOSWELL, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising

There is a real shortage of experienced fundraisers. The Institute receives more calls about how to recruit proven fundraising staff than almost any other subject.

At present, fundraisers change jobs more often than most other disciplines.

So, if you have the right team in place, it makes sense to do all you can to keep them. How many of us have just got the budgets comfortably balanced between realistic and challenging only to hear of the imminent departure of a key member of the fundraising team? Or, worse still, the departure of the only full-time fundraiser?

Replacements never arrive before that person departs, despite the trend for longer notice periods. It takes six months for the new fundraiser to be fully up and running and they don't "own

the budget in quite the same way.

People will move on unless you can offer them promotion within the organisation.

However, for many of us, we have to be satisfied that we have kept a person for their natural "shelf-life

and accept that it is in the individual's best interest to seek alternative employment if we can't offer them the necessary career development.

The need for focused, affordable fundraising training has never been greater. It is for this reason that the Fundraising Programme was launched last week, bringing together fundraising training from the Directory of Social Change and the Institute of Fundraising. This joint initiative seeks to develop and provide a wide range of fundraising training, which is able to meet the changing needs of fundraisers, now and in the future.

I know we are meant to be scientific and impartial in such matters, but when interviewing I do tend to get excited when I meet a strong candidate. I always ask the question: "What training would you feel is appropriate to fulfil your potential in this post?

This is partly a sales technique to try to give the message that if you come and work here I will invest in you and your development.

A job ad stating that the successful candidate must be willing to be developed through well-matched training is hugely attractive to potential employees and says a great deal about your organisation.

The relatively low financial investment and time away from the office is a small price to pay compared with the thousands of pounds involved in advertising a post and the time lost by the interview panel.

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