Recently, your nonprofit’s fundraising team has made great strides. You’re reaching out to donors, building relationships, and making a difference within your community or cause. However, amid these exciting developments, you feel some strain building within your team as everyone takes on more and more tasks. You think to yourself, is it the right time to bring on new team members to help out?
It can be hard to determine when is the “best” time to bring on a new staff member. However, there are a few indicators that can help you make the decision.
Whether you find yourself needing assistance with specific fundraising campaigns, website development, grant writing, or any other fundraising-related responsibilities, here are four signs that will let you know it may be time to hire more staff:
- You’re struggling to keep up with the latest fundraising trends.
- You need a specialist who can fulfill a specific need.
- Your top leaders are overloaded with responsibilities.
- You want to ramp up your fundraising efforts.
Your organization’s leaders may be interested in bringing on a new full-time staff member or hiring a third-party fundraising consultant to fill the gaps in your knowledge base for a specified time period. Either way, these signs signal it’s the right time to add some extra helping hands to your team. Let’s get started.
You’re struggling to keep up with the latest fundraising trends.
The fundraising world continuously expands and innovates as new technologies and best practices emerge. To keep up with trends and optimize your fundraising approach, your team must adjust accordingly and adapt to the changing environment.
However, you may feel like as of right now, your team faces gaps in your knowledge base that prevent you from taking full advantage of new technology solutions and trends. For example, perhaps you’ve noticed that:
- You feel like you don’t have enough team members to collaborate with on new ideas.
- Your team members don’t have time for additional training and haven’t been able to keep up with recent trends.
- You’ve seen other similar nonprofits bring on additional team members to expand their organizational knowledge.
If you relate to any of these statements, it may be a good time to look into hiring additional staff members or a third-party consultant to bring fresh ideas and an outside perspective.
For instance, let’s say your organization is interested in increasing your use of digital marketing platforms such as social media. You want to take advantage of unique opportunities like Facebook Challenges to engage with donors. But right now, you don’t have enough staff members to devote time to these initiatives.
This is a great opportunity to bring on a new, digital-focused staff member who can establish a strong social media presence for your organization. This person can bring their technical expertise to the table and help your nonprofit respond to the ever-growing importance of digital communications.
You need a specialist who can fulfill a specific need.
Similarly, if your organization is a growing nonprofit, your staff members are likely taking on multiple roles each. Perhaps your fundraising team is made up of generalists who are competent in many different areas, but you’re lacking specialists who can bring highly technical knowledge in certain areas.
First, you should identify what your organization’s priorities are and where you think you need an expert’s help. For instance, your organization may be interested in:
- Focusing more energy on finding and applying for grant opportunities.
- Building rapport with donors through better marketing campaigns.
- Ramping up your prospect research to start identifying potential major donors.
- Launching a capital campaign to fund a specific project, such as new building construction.
You may consider bringing on a dedicated staff member to fulfill these specific roles. This person can devote 100% of their time and energy to helping your organization complete this specific task or project.
For example, you can hire a capital campaign consultant to help see through a major fundraising undertaking. These professionals can help with every aspect of the project, including conducting a feasibility study, building your case for support, cultivating major gifts, and helping you recognize and thank donors throughout the entire process. This helps give your staff direction and can lead to a much more powerful capital campaign that achieves its goal.
Your top leaders are overloaded with responsibilities.
If your organization is experiencing explosive growth, you know that it can be a very exciting, yet stressful time. Your team members, especially your top leadership, may find that the number of tasks on their plate each day has become overwhelming.
When your top leaders are bogged down by a plethora of tasks, it can lead to inefficiencies and roadblocks for your entire organization. Your leaders should be focused on big-picture efforts rather than the minute day-to-day details of your operations. When leaders are spread too thin, they might miss new opportunities for growth and development.
It may be time to bring on new staff members if your organization’s leaders:
- Spend too much time managing day-to-day internal operations.
- Are engulfed by emails and ad-hoc conversations that require time and attention to address.
- Often mention a desire for more middle managers or other employees to delegate responsibilities to.
When you bring on more staff members, it can relieve some of the pressure on top leaders and help your organization run more smoothly. Your top managers will be able to spend more time connecting with major donors and expanding your fundraising efforts in other areas, while still being available to help with any urgent daily tasks or unexpected challenges.
You want to ramp up your fundraising efforts.
Lastly, perhaps your organization is simply eager to take your fundraising efforts to new heights. You’ve noticed that similar-sized nonprofits in your issue area are fundraising at a higher level, and you’d like to achieve the same measure of success.
Perhaps you’re looking to scale up your fundraising efforts by:
- Boosting your online donation channels with new digital giving tools such as text-to-give.
- Improving your donor stewardship efforts with more strategic, tailored communications that focus on fostering relationships.
- Exploring virtual and hybrid fundraising event opportunities to reach online audiences.
- Growing relationships with corporate sponsors that can provide an additional revenue boost through direct donations and matching gifts.
Hiring a new staff member or an outside consultant can expand your fundraising capacity so you can take on these new projects and challenges. In this case, “many hands make light work” is true — when you hire more nonprofit staff members, you can spread out the tasks and complete projects much more efficiently.
Bonus: Tips for Finding the Right Candidate
If you recognize these signs within your own organization and think it’s the right time to hire a new staff member (or several), you’ll want to ensure the hiring process is successful. That way, you won’t have to spend multiple months searching for the right candidate, and you’ll be able to find new employees who are more likely to stick around for longer.
Here are a few tips to make the hiring process a success:
- Create an accurate, effective job description. Job descriptions are incredibly important because they provide the foundation for hiring and performance management reviews. They lay out clear guidelines for each role you’re seeking to fill, which can help filter applications for those that actually fit the requirements. Well-written descriptions also give prospective candidates a good first impression of your organization. Reference Astron Solution’s guide to writing effective job explanations to create the best description for your open positions.
- Use your network for referrals. Aly Sterling’s guide to hiring fundraising consultants recommends reaching out to respected peers and professional and community-based organizations for recommendations. Your peers can provide insight into consultants they’ve worked with and connect you with experienced specialists. You can also use the directories of professional or community organizations to search for experts within your area.
- Choose candidates who mesh well with your organization. Finding a candidate who’s the right cultural fit for your nonprofit is just as important as ensuring that they have the right skills and experience for the job. You’ll want to ask for each candidate’s references (or, in the case of consultants, their testimonials) to ensure they can work well with others and have the experience needed for the role.
If you’re searching for a fundraising consultant who can step in for a defined period to help with your fundraising goals, check out Double the Donation’s list of top fundraising consultants to start your research. The firms on that list run the gamut from those who are experienced with technology, capital campaigns, board management, grant writing, and more.
If you’re seeking a full-time candidate to join your organization, be sure to post your job description on nonprofit-related hiring boards. You can also reach out to the career departments at different colleges and universities to place your listing in their email newsletters or websites.
These tips will help you get in touch with the right candidates who can help expand your organization’s fundraising efforts and fill any gaps in your expertise.
Whether you’re interested in hiring a full-time staff member or an outside consultant who can act as a staff member, we hope this guide has helped you make your decision of whether to bring on some new teammates. In this instance, there’s no right or wrong answer — it’s all about what you think will be best for your organization and help you achieve your goals.
We wish to thank Aly Sterling Philanthropy for today’s post.
Long before Aly Sterling founded her eponymous consulting firm, she was solving the unique yet similar problems encountered by nonprofit organizations.
Her decision to start her own business in 2007 was driven by her belief in leadership as the single most important factor in organizational success, and her determination to work with multiple causes at one time to scale societal change.
Aly’s expertise includes fundraising, strategic planning, search consultation and board leadership development for the well-positioned nonprofit. She is regularly sought for comment by trade and mainstream media, including the Chronicle of Philanthropy and U.S. News & World Report. She has contributed to publications of BoardSource and The Governance Institute, as well as the Toledo Chamber of Commerce and The Giving Institute.