Has your search for a Trust and Grants fundraiser been unsuccessful? It would seem you are not alone….

Increasingly we are approached by charities who have recently attempted to recruit a Trust and Grants fundraiser but who have found their search to be fruitless, they come to us looking for short-medium term support to help them achieve their funding requirements. They tell us they were overwhelmed with the number of applications but received very few of the quality they were looking for. Upon interview things seem to get worse. One of our Birmingham based clients was looking for a part time Trust and Grants fundraiser and received over 60 applications, only 4 of whom had any relevant experience!

Over the years we have worked with some fantastic fundraisers so why is there such a dearth of good applicants? We initially thought the problem was regional as we had heard from charities in Nottingham, Leicester and Derby who told us of their difficulties with recruitment but we spoke with a number of Fundraising Directors working for London based National charities who told us the same – they are struggling to find good Trust and Grants fundraisers. We’ve pondered long and hard about why this might be and come up with a number of reasons:

  • Fundraising is not viewed as a profession – very often when we tell people we are fundraisers they think we knock doors or rattle tins for a living.  Because of this perception and a lack of formal training for those interested in the field, there aren’t many professionally trained fundraisers in the market and the demand for such employees greatly outstrips the supply.
  • While there is a great need for skilled staff in non-profits, there are also countless young people who are looking for career paths which will allow them to support themselves and also provide personal fulfilment. Too frequently we see unpaid Internship’ being offered to young people – these are an impossible proposition for many. Without experience they will struggle to get a paid role and further experience, but who can afford to work for nothing? The lack of paid entry level positions for young people keen to work in the third sector is a ticking time bomb!
  • Very experienced fundraisers are in high demand and by the time they have gained a few years’ experience progress to senior level posts, often working for larger charities that are able to offer higher pay and job stability.
  • Unrealistic targets set – this blog post explains why targets set for fundraisers should be realistic, no-one wants to take on an unachievable goal!
  • Hesitance on the part of the employer – taking on a member of staff can feel risky, especially in this economic climate, with all the associated on costs and contractual obligations, if the candidate isn’t 100% right they are unwilling to take the risk.
  • Working with Recruitment agencies can be expensive but can save considerable time so it’s understandable that for many this is the preferred option. However we know that some agencies just don’t understand the sector and therefore put forward applicants with unsuitable skills and experience. We recommend Harris Hill, Execucare, Charity People and Prospectus.
  • Poor interviews – this works both ways, I have been interviewed before by a Chief Exec who conducted the interview bare foot, eating a yoghurt throughout! From potential employers we have heard tales of candidates either being too pushy or conversely too timid, so they couldn’t imagine them working well under pressure.

All of these reasons have been cited when clients come to us looking for fundraising support. We are able to fill the gaps in capacity and provide professional support backed up with many years’ experience, for all of those we work with we provide a cost effective solution and a welcome solution to the recruitment problem.

It is our intention as we grow to proactively recruit (pay!) and train young people to become the next generation of professional fundraisers  and we are delighted by the news that from September this year the world’s first undergraduate degree in fundraising begins at The University of Chichester.

What do you think? Have you noticed the same problems or have you recruited successfully?