Fundraising news, ideas and inspiration for professional charity fundraisers

‘Put needs of sector ahead of your career ambitions’ to grow cadre of new leaders

‘Put needs of sector ahead of your career ambitions’ to grow cadre of new leaders

Fundraisers should put the needs of the sector ahead of their personal careers, delegates at the in Holland earlier this month were told.

Maria Ros Jernberg, ceo of the Swedish Fundraising Council, said fundraisers needed to take more personal responsibility for the sector as a whole and “not just the causes we care about”.

Jernberg was speaking at the launch of Tony Elischer’s new campaign to promote future fundraising leaders ­­– Grow It, Be It, Value It ­–  which argues that not enough is being done to develop emerging, and diverse, talent in fundraising to replace the current middle-aged, white male (“Pale, male and stale”) leadership.

She said one problem with developing this new generation of leaders was that there was that there was only a “small pool” of good fundraisers who were candidates for future leadership roles.

Maria Ros Jernberg

Maria Ros Jernberg

“The good ones are likely to leave [their current jobs] if they are offered a job with a better salary,” she said. “If you are one of those high-performing fundraisers, you have to stop saying yes every time the phone rings and you are flattered with a new job offer. You have to stay on [in current jobs] and put the needs of the sector above your own personal needs.

Fundraisers should instead focus their career development on their profession rather than a better salary: “Invest your time and knowledge in new fundraising methods and ideas and that will give you the boost you are looking for. Do that and you will thrive.”

However, she said that one of the biggest problems that drove fundraiser to leave their jobs was poor management. She cited the International Compensation and Benefits Survey for Fundraising Professionals that showed that 40 per cent of fundraisers left their jobs over “conflicting opinions about how to raise money”.

“Fundraisers are not leaving jobs, they are leaving managers,” Jernberg said.


Recruitment procedures undervalue candidates’ ‘right attitudes’

Tony Elischer told delegates that companies were adept at identifying and promoting new talent but charities just recycled the same people by offering higher salaries.

However, other speakers at the launch event suggested that recruitment practices for new fundraisers were sometimes too restrictive, not allowing charities for recruitment based on attitude but relying instead on a ‘tick box’ previous experience. Fundraising innovation consultant Lucy Gower described how she had recently helped a charity recruit a fundraiser based on “attitude over experience”. She said: “But because they didn’t tick all the HR boxes we had to convince HR to allow them to join.

“Perhaps some of the [HR] processes we have in place are not the best way to get people on board. Are we recruiting based on experience or getting the person with the right attitude to succeed?”


Image: leadership by Bplanet on


Ian MacQuillin is the founder and director of Rogare, the fundraising think tank at Plymouth University's Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy. He has worked in fundraising since 2001 as editor of Professional Fundraising (2001-2006), account director at TurnerPR (2006-2009) and head of communications at the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (2009-2013).

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