Why Recruiters Fixate On Fundraising Skills

December 13, 2016 – Nearly two million non-profit organizations employ approximately 10.7 million people and produce revenue in excess of $1.9 trillion. That figure elevates non-profits as the third-largest employer. “One in 10 jobs in America is a non-profit job. It’s a really significant economic contributor as a sector,” said BoardWalk Consulting managing director Kathy Bremer, whose clients include global, national and local non-profits and foundations.

With companies being pressured to find leaders who can play a major role in fundraising, recruiters are scurrying to find talented candidates to satisfy the demand. “Pure fundraising has to pick up more and more of the burden for sustaining organizations and their missions,” said Dennis Barden, a senior partner at Witt/Kieffer who works extensively on searches for college presidents and chancellors, chief academic officers, deans and other leadership in public and private institutions.

Competition is Fierce

Competition for fundraising dollars is fierce, especially as government funds for non-profits are diminishing and the competition for philanthropic giving is on the rise. “In academia, in which I do most of my work, raising student tuition simply isn’t feasible or politically acceptable any more as an income strategy,” said Mr. Barden.

“There is a saying in the not-for-profit world – ‘no money, no mission,’” said Patrick Friel, a managing partner at Lochlin Partners who serves non-profit clients as well as those in government, technology, and professional services. “Many of these entities rely on raising funds to supply and/or augment their operating budget.”

According to Molly Brennan, a founding partner at Koya Partners, identifying and securing exceptional fundraisers with a true track record of success can be challenging because the talent pool is thin and the demand is high. “There is a great deal of competition for funding and foundations and high net worth donors are typically fielding (many) requests,” said Ms. Brennan, who oversees the firm’s search operations. “That’s why it’s critical for organizations to have a strong fundraising strategy that makes the case for investment.”

Innovative and Creative

Effective leaders in the non-profit sector tend to be creative and innovative visionaries who stay true to their organization’s mission. Above all else, they need to be strategic business minds who can identify and motivate the key stakeholders whose philanthropy pulls everything together. “Great fundraisers help connect the donor’s desire to give with the organization’s need,” said Mr. Friel. “That sounds simple but philanthropy can be a delicate dance. Remember: ‘no money, no mission.’”

Contributed by John Harris, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media

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