Over in the states we can get wrapped up in the idea that development trends are specific to the US. But the struggle to find and retain frontline talent transcends national borders. As this article from The Guardian (UK) describes our friends on the other side of the pond see the same struggles that we do. Charitable organizations are struggling to fill open positions for major gift programs and retain the talent they have. They set out looking for talent, but often can’t even find a reasonable number of viable candidates to choose from.
The pool of options in a MGO search – a few disinterested parties and some pigeons.
Part of the struggle lies with compensation; the strongest fundraisers are well aware of their endangered species designation and know that they can find salaries at a highly competitive level. Another component, especially in the modern workplace, are the intangibles and flexibility of the workplace that drive job satisfaction.
However, even institutions with an ideal workplace and attractive compensation package in the UK are struggling because (and we know this well enough here in the US as well) there simply is not enough skilled, experienced talent to fill the many open positions in the development field. The numbers are simply not there. Nonprofit organizations are effectively trading open positions as DOs and MGOs shuffle between institutions.
So what are we to do? How do we work to fill this need with such a limited resource? The British Red Cross’s answer: Build your own team from scratch and abandon recruitment altogether.
“Astarita said the British Red Cross had a lot of success in recruiting new fundraisers though the use of unpaid interns. ‘We haven’t recruited a trust fundraiser for ages,’ he said. ‘They all come through trainee level. So we’re having to make our own fundraisers at the lower level and I think that’s increasingly going to feed through into mid ranks.'”
Of course building your own team has its own drawbacks. You run the risk of making a huge investment in human capital only to see those individuals move on a few years down the road to better paychecks, leaving you with yet another green group to train. Also, your fundraising culture might become isolated and miss out on best practices and connections that seasoned individuals from other institutions would bring. It’s a calculated risk that an organization as big as the British Red Cross can afford to make.
What do you think? Are non-profits in all countries facing the same situation? Where can we find these rare effective fundraisers?