Hiring a fundraising professional

Yesterday, we talked about the qualities and traits you should look for when hiring a “donor-centered” resource development professional. We ended up with some great comments and discussion. So, I decided to continue down this path a little farther today.

I oftentimes get asked the following two questions by small to mid-size non-profit organizations when it comes to hiring a RD professional:

  • When should we hire our first RD professional?
  • How much should we expect them to raise?

I believe an organization should consider hiring its first fundraising pro when it reaches a point when it feels like it needs more help to go to the next level. So, if a small organization is using committed board volunteers and an executive director to go from Point A to Point B in its resource development program, then it is a natural question during the annual evaluation process to ask once they get to Point B — “Do we need help getting to Point C or can we do it by ourselves?”

Evaluation is key to getting perspective and thinking through the question of when to hire your first RD professional. I also think Tony Poderis does a masterful job addressing this issue. Click here to read his article on this subject.

It is easier for me to definitively say that the following examples are times when an organization should NOT hire a RD professional:

  • When the board is tired of fundraising and wants to hire someone to do it for them
  • When the executive director of the organization is deemed to be inadequate at fundraising
  • When the organization¬†doesn’t know in what direction it wants to go with its comprehensive resource development program.

As for ROI, I have heard lots of different opinions on this subject ranging anywhere FROM “one-times/two-times/three-times the RD professional’s salary” TO “you cannot measure it by dollars & cents because a good RD person makes board volunteers better fundraisers which leads to increased donor engagement”. I thought The Foundation Center did a nice job answering this question in their blog post.

When do you think an organization should hire its first fundraising professional or add more development people to the department? And do you have any suggestions on how to measure ROI? Please jump in and share your thoughts!

Here is to your health!

Erik Anderson
Owner, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
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